Title: NEEDING TO LOVE YOU
Author: Erin Rylie
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Carlos Ramirez has always prided himself on two things: being damn good at his job on the Houston police force and being able to land any woman he wants. When a devastating car accident leaves him crippled and in excruciating pain, he begins to rely too heavily on his prescription painkillers. The only person who can help him heal is the only woman who has ever rejected him—and on more than one occasion. Living with Kelsey while he works through physical therapy wasn’t anything he ever expected to happen, but it might just be what he needs.
After a divorce that left her doubting her ability to love, Kelsey Byrne wants nothing to do with relationships. Unfortunately for her, the only man she could see herself loving needs a place to live and help while he recovers. She had a hard time pushing him away after a one-night stand, so how can she possibly keep him at arm’s length when he’s in her house every day, playing with her son, cooking her meals, and leaving her cute notes every morning? Carlos may be working his way into her heart one sweet gesture at a time, but can she give him everything knowing that she’s more than a little broken inside?
She leaned across the table, well aware that her shirt gaped when she did so. She could tell from the tightness of his expression that he was struggling not to look down her shirt, still trying to maintain the charade that he was a gentleman.
Kelsey pitched her voice low so that nobody else would overhear what she said but Carlos. “Would a gentleman go down on me in the kitchen?”
Carlos grinned. “Absolutely, that sounds like a very gentlemanly thing to do.” He winked at her, still managing to keep his gaze on her face when she knew he wanted to look down.
“Well, I can tell you want to look down my shirt. Trying to get a good look at my tits? What are you thinking about doing to them right now?”
The smile slid from his face and his eyes blazed with lust. He coughed and took a sip of the water she hadn’t even noticed a server pouring. “I’m not thinking about them, actually. I’m thinking about…um…baseball?” Carlos’s voice rose at the end, making his intended statement a question.
Poor guy. Kelsey knew that she was torturing him needlessly. “Just go ahead and look. I know you want to.”
Carlos eyed her suspiciously. “You won’t call me a pig?”
“Nope,” she replied, popping the “p.”
Before the word had entirely left her lips, Carlos had propped his elbows up on the table, rested his face in his hands, and was staring at her breasts with open adoration. He let out an audible sigh and just stared.
Their waiter chose that exact moment to walk over, clearing his throat awkwardly. “Sorry to um, interrupt, but did y’all want to order anything to drink besides water?”
“Not now, buddy. In the middle of something,” Carlos replied, not moving an inch, his eyes locked on her cleavage.
Kelsey sighed and looked at the waiter. The poor guy was clearly uncomfortable, torn between doing his job and running the hell away. “Sorry about him, I can’t take him anywhere, really. We would love a bottle of Malbec; which do you recommend?”
The waiter stuttered out a recommendation, which Kelsey accepted, and hurried off to get their bottle and some glasses.
“Are you proud of yourself? You’ve traumatized the wait staff. Next, the manager will come over and ask us to leave.”
Carlos waved his hand in the air as if the prospect of being thrown out of a fine-dining restaurant was of no consequence. “I’m a cop, they won’t throw me out.”
“Wow, so you use your power for evil?”
“No, definitely not. But I will absolutely use my power to get me more time with your breasts. I’m a boob man, remember?”
“I thought you were an ass man?”
“On you, I like it all.”
Kelsey leaned back in her seat and adjusted her shirt, hiding her cleavage from his view. Carlos put on his best hurt look.
“Bye ladies, I’ll miss you.”
She rolled her eyes, but couldn’t fight her smile. He was the most ridiculous man that she’d ever met. It was probably one of her favorite things about Carlos, actually. He didn’t give a shit what other people thought of him. He was always, unabashedly himself, no matter the situation or setting.
The waiter returned, looking relieved to see that Carlos was no longer openly gawking at Kelsey’s boobs, and poured their wine before taking their dinner order.
As they waited for their food, they slipped into an easy conversation, talking about work, Carlos’s physical therapy, and of course James. The clear affection Carlos had for her son warmed her heart. The two of them were definitely buddies. They frequently played a game they’d invented called “Zoo Keeper,” and Carlos had recently ordered a slew of board games for them to all play together. They actually had a board-game night planned for Sunday when Kyle brought James home.
All of Kelsey’s usual reticence disappeared when she was in the presence of Carlos. All of her relationship fears fled, chased away by the ease of their conversation, by the occasional heat in his eyes that did things to her body. It was the reason she’d been avoiding him in recent weeks—he was irresistible to her and she needed to remember why she avoided relationships. She was broken, and he deserved better. He deserved someone who could love and cherish him for the rest of their lives. She didn’t know that she could ever be that person for anyone, but damn, Carlos made her want to try.
Before long, the sun began to set, pulling Kelsey’s attention from their conversation. The light outside turned orange, bathing downtown Houston in a warm glow that took her breath away. She didn’t know that she’d ever truly appreciated the beauty of her city until now.
“Wow,” she breathed. “This view is breathtaking, Carlos.”
She glanced over to find him gazing at her, the open affection in his expression taking her by surprise. “Yes, it is.”
“Nope, no sir. You take that back. You will not use some cheesy movie line on me on our first date. Try again, please.”
Carlos laughed and nodded. “I meant it, but fair enough. Okay, let me dig in the vault and pull out some of my best lines. How about this one—I lost my rubber ducky, can I bathe with you instead?”
She chuckled and shook her head. “Try again.”
“Is your name winter? Because you’ll be coming soon.”
“Oh my God, no!”
“Your breasts remind me of Mount Rushmore, my face should be among them.”
Kelsey shook her head, her body quaking with laughter.
“The FBI wants to steal my penis. Can I hide it inside you?”
“Carlos! These are just getting worse.”
He looked thoughtful for a few moments before a wolfish expression crossed his face. “Okay, I’ve got it, I have THE pickup line. This one is definitely going to get me laid tonight.”
“Doubtful, but let’s hear it.”
“If it’s true that we are what we eat, I could be you by morning.”
Kelsey laughed so hard she was wiping tears from her eyes, and her cheeks hurt from the wide smile on her face. Before she could respond, the smile dropped from Carlos’s expression, his handsome face serious.
“I’ll try one more, deal?”
She nodded, unsure what to expect.
“This has already been the best date I’ve ever been on. I’ve been waiting all my life to meet a woman like you—you’re smart, funny, and full of fire. Even if this is all you can ever give me, this right here, this night with you? It will be something I cherish for the rest of my life.”
About the author:
Montana born, Texas raised New Jersey transplant with a degree in hospitality.
At 29 years old, I decided it was finally time for me to pursue my real passion
in life – writing. I’ve been writing princess stories and LOTR fan-fiction
since I was in middle school, so the transition into romance has been fun!
When I’m not writing, I’m reading (fantasy, sci-fi and romance are my genres) or working. I’m currently obsessed with Brooklyn Nine Nine which should tell you all you need to know about my sense of humor.
Finally, I am 100% an old cat lady. My cats Socks and Kaz are little weirdos and I love them more than most people.