Title: Choosing Happiness
Author: Melissa Stevens
Genre: Adult Romance
Release Date: July 21, 2015Summary:
Jake and Andrea met once. When Andrea was in college, Jake came with her brother Ben who was visiting on leave from a deployment in Afghanistan. Now, years later, Jake gets a job in Ben’s home town to be close to his best friend. He hadn’t counted on Andrea. The attraction he’d felt then was still there. And this time he wasn’t headed back to a war zone where he could very well be killed.
Andrea is drawn to the man who calls Ben brother. Something about him speaks to her, but she’s not sure what. She falls into things head first, but when something makes her question how fast things are going she slams on the breaks. Can the two of them figure out what’s going on with them before it’s too late?
He quickly fixed two cups of hot cocoa, but before serving he ducked around the corner. She was sitting on the couch with the blanket pulled over her lap. "Have you ever tried Bailey’s in your cocoa?"
"No. Is it good?"
"I like it, want me to bring you mine and let you try it before you decide?"
"If you don't mind, please?"
"If I minded I wouldn't have offered." He carried his cup of cocoa to the sofa and let her take a sip.
"Oooh, that’s good."
"Want me to add some to yours, too?"
"Please, that would be great." She kept his warm cup cradled in her hands, her shivering had stopped.
Jake quickly doctored the second cup of cocoa and returned, sitting down on the sofa near Andrea. He was careful not to jar her enough to spill the cocoa. "Do you want to trade? Or do you want to keep that one?"
"I already have this one and it’s almost half gone so I might as well keep it."
Jake held his arm out. "Do you want to come over here and let me help warm you up?"
She scooted over and slid under his arm, lifting the blanket to cover his lap too, so he could help the heat build underneath. He pulled her close against his side and curled his arm around her. They sat quietly, drinking their cocoa for a few minutes, until Andrea started laughing.
"What?" Jake frowned down at her, confused.
"We’ve got to be crazy. Sitting here, still dressed for the wedding, sipping cocoa at nearly three am."
"Well, I considered getting you out of the dress, but thought I'd be a gentleman and let it warm up in here first," Jake quipped, causing Andrea to laugh harder. "I love your laugh," Jake squeezed her against him in a quick, one-armed hug. "It makes me feel good."
"What a sweet thing to say." She stretched up to kiss him on the cheek. Draining the last of her cocoa, she set the empty cup on the coffee table in front of them. Pulling the blanket up to her shoulders, she curled into him, resting her head against his chest. "You smell nice." She wiggled a little, trying to get comfortable.
"Make yourself comfortable." He looked down at her, amused.
"I'm working on it. You're warm, like Ben."
"You do this to Ben?"
"Not anymore, but I did when I was younger. I was always cold and he was always so warm. I would curl up against him and steal some warmth. He never really knew what to make of it." She admitted reflectively.
"I imagine not." He wasn’t sure what to make of it himself. Not knowing what else to do, he slipped the arm that had been around her under the blanket and started rubbing up and down her side. He didn't know why he did it, just that it seemed right. After a couple minutes she kicked off her shoes and pulled her legs up and curled them beside her. Jake started rubbing his hand up and down her leg. "Hmm... No hose."
"No, I hate those things."
"Probably would have been at least a little warmer in them though."
"True. I wasn't planning on staying out quite so late or in the cold as long when I got dressed though."
"So you froze." He ran his fingers along her thigh, back and forth against the hem of her dress, sending another shiver though her body. "You still cold?"
"No, not anymore." She moved against him, as if silently asking for more.
Jake continued to play his fingers lightly over her skin, teasing her with his touch until he had finished his cocoa. He carefully slipped out from under the blanket, tucking it around her, and stood. Picking up hers, he took both mugs into the kitchen and set them in the sink. On the way back, he took off his suit jacket and hung it and his tie over the back of a dining chair.
Unfastening his collar, Jake returned to the couch. Sitting beside her, this time he kicked his own shoes off and sat sideways, one leg bent in the seat as he leaned against the arm. He invited her to curl up against him. "Come here."
She crawled closer, dragging the blanket with her, and laid against his chest. He pulled the blanket around her, tucking it around her feet and put his arms underneath to wrap them around her.
"How’s that? Warm enough?" He liked that she trusted him enough to put herself in his arms.
"It's nice, but not at all what I thought you meant when you said you wanted to take me home." She looked up at him with half lidded eyes.
"It's not, but it’s still a little cool in here, besides I'm enjoying this too."
Andrea got a mischievous glint in her eyes as she started to wiggle, moving her arms around his sides.
"What are you up to?"
"Nothing much." She struggled a moment, pulling the ends of his dress shirt and the t-shirt underneath free from his slacks. When she managed to untuck them all the way around she slid her hands underneath, against his skin. "Mmmm, much better." She played her fingers back and forth over his skin. Pushing herself onto her knees, she stretched until her lips met his. She kissed him eagerly, using her mouth to let him know she was ready to move faster.
Jake ran his hands along the hem of her dress, caressing the bare skin as he slowly inched the fabric up her legs.
Engrossed in the deep kiss, Andrea let her fingers curl. They dug into his skin as she pulled herself against him. She squirmed, moving into his hands as he touched her and pulling herself back into him again, as though she couldn’t decide which touch she wanted more.
Jake continued to slowly slide her dress up, running his fingers lightly over her soft skin on either side of her body as he went. It wasn’t until she arched her back, leaning into him that he realized he'd reached her waist. He broke the kiss and looked at Andrea, confused.
She smiled mischievously again, amused by his confusion.
"Don't tell me you've been naked under that dress all night long?"
"Would you like it if I were?"
"Girl, I've wanted you since the first time I laid eyes on you, before I knew who you were. It drives me crazy thinking of you with no panties on under that little dress all day. On the side of the highway, changing that tire." He felt himself growing hard at the thought. "In the church while Ben said ‘I do’. All that time at the reception hall, and sitting next to me at the diner."
Andrea laughed at how his voice deepened with desire as he spoke and the hard feel of him pressing against her. "It's a good thing I was wearing some then, wasn't it?"
I’m often asked if I base my characters on people I know. No. Each character’s personality is different. I do sometimes steal mannerisms, haircuts, personal preferences, but more often than not it’s what the character has told me about themselves and yes, they actually speak to me.
Sometimes I’ll be sitting in a restaurant with my family and over hear something at the next table that makes my mind spin. It may give me an idea or it may just sound so much like one of the people living in my head that they end up saying something similar in the future.
I may see someone somewhere who inspires my physically, and actually for Jade’s Peace, Steve was inspired by my mental image of what Model Jeremy Aaron’s personality might be like. I kept a picture of him on my desktop and when I had doubts about how Steve might behave, how he would react to something I could look at the pic and I just knew. Often, though I don’t need a visual aid. With Jade, she spoke to me, and told me things I didn’t have planned at all. She started out as an only child. And I was writing along and she says to me, “Watch out, my brother will be here tomorrow.” My immediate thought was, “You don’t have a brother.” She was adamant though and replied, “Yes I do and he’ll be here tomorrow.” Sure enough, he showed up, and I had to go back and fix a few things but I’ll admit, he made the story better.
I find that my best stories, at least to me, at the ones where I start out with a vague idea of the story, I have two characters and a rough ending, (Hey, this is romance, they always end up together, right?) and let the characters tell me their story as I go along. The characters always seem more alive when they lead their own stories.
Melissa was born and raised in Arizona, she's spent her entire life living across the southern half of the state. She's found that, along with her husband and three children, she prefers the small towns and rural life to feeling packed into a city.
She started reading at a very young age, and her love for series started early, as the first real books she remembers reading is the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Through the years she's found that there's little she won't read, and her tastes vary from westerns, to romance, to sci-fi / fantasy and Horror.
She's been writing since 2009, and enjoys nearly every minute of it.