The One That Got Away
by AJ Pine
The Kingston Ale House, #1
Publication Date: April 18, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Entangled Select Contemporary
How far will one man go for the woman he’s loved since high school?
Jamie Kingston has been Brynn Chandler’s best friend since middle school. Only once was their friendship tested—when Brynn gave Jamie a single kiss. Since then, they’ve had an unspoken agreement never to cross that line again, and she’s ready to let go of the past and move on.
But Jamie has loved Brynn for as long as he can remember, and now that he’s ready to tell her, she has her sights set on someone else. Knowing this is his last chance, he asks Brynn to go on a two-week road trip. But their time alone brings old hurts to the surface, and Brynn has to decide if the one that got away lies at the end of the journey or if he’s been by her side all along.
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY by A.J. PINE
She touched him, gently this time, a hand on his chest. And though his shirt was damp and cold, heat radiated from her palm and through his veins. How had he ever thought he
could be okay with just her friendship? And what would he do now if he lost it? He’d lose her forever.
Right now, though, in this room and with the magic that was Amarillo and tequila and lucky bouquets, she was his.
“Maybe you should kiss it and make it better.” He touched his chin again, and his fingers came away clean.
Brynn mirrored his action, but her skin was like satin compared to his own rough touch. And the heat, again he felt it from the pit of his stomach to the nerve endings in his fingers and toes. He felt everything when she touched him, and when her lips took the place of her hand, all reason went
out the window.
“Like this?” she asked, her voice breathy and sweet and like nothing he’d ever heard from any other woman.
His eyes fluttered shut. “Yes.”
He opened his eyes to watch as, standing on her toes, she peppered his neck with kisses.
He raked his fingers into her hair, and she looked up at him.
“You know we’re going to see each other naked, right?”
Jamie barked out a laugh.
“It’s kind of what I hoped.”
“What if you laugh?” she asked.
“I won’t laugh.”
“What if I laugh?” she asked, her cheeks growing pink, and shit she was adorable when she was nervous. He took off his shirt, and Brynn sucked in a sharp breath. They’d seen each other at the beach. This wasn’t anything new. And yet it was miles away from the boundaries of
“You’re not laughing,” he said, and she shook her head.
He liked seeing her speechless. He liked being the one to make her speechless. “Now you,” he told her, his voice gentle as he tried to ease them both into the unknown.
Her fingers fidgeted with the top button of her shirt, but she couldn’t quite get it open. Jamie’s hands covered hers, steadied them, and they undid the buttons together. She let the open garment fall from her shoulders, and there she stood, the cream lace of her bra against the flushed pink of her otherwise pale skin.
Jamie wasn’t laughing, either. In fact, he had to remind himself to breathe so he had enough oxygen to formulate any sound at all, because her hands moved to the front clasp of her bra, and yep. He still wasn’t breathing.
“What?” she asked, pausing to look at him.
He pulled her hands down to her sides before she completed her task.
“You don’t want me to…” she started, but he shook his head.
“Seventeen-year-old me is out of his mind with how long he’s wanted to touch you like this. He needs a second to collect himself.”
He winked at her and stepped through the door.
Jamie checked his voicemails on the office phone when Brynn stepped in front of him and rubbed her finger over the fading scar on his chin.
“She does do good work,” she said.
He closed his eyes for a brief couple of seconds, and Brynn held her breath. Then he jerked his head back, a totally acceptable reflex now since she’d stabbed him in the face with a letter opener.
“Thanks,” he said, his voice unusually strained.
“You’re still mad at me,” she said. “It was three months ago, and it was an accident. Plus you got a girlfriend out of the whole deal, so you really should be thanking me. I did you a favor.”
He laughed. “Can we take a poll tonight to see how many people would like the favor of you impaling them in the face with a sharp object?”
She threw up her arms, her right hand knocking a shelf above Jamie’s desk where his coffee mug, the one that read Shhh…there’s beer in here, held all his multicolored dry-erase markers. Brynn caught the mug as it toppled from the shelf, but the markers scattered across the desk and the floor.
Jamie raised his eyebrows, and she groaned. At least she wasn’t gesticulating with anything other than her hands. No danger of drawing blood. And it’s not like she was some bull in a china shop, either. That day in her office, Jamie had sneaked up on her while she was opening bills. When someone pokes you in the ribs and yells, “Boo!” you react. And Brynn reacted much like right now, her arms flailing. Only that time, Jamie’s face got in the way instead of a shelf.
“First of all, you weren’t impaled,” she said. “It was little more than a scratch.”
She stepped away from the desk, then stopped short before she erased his calendar with her back. How Jamie worked in such a cramped space was beyond her. He must knock stuff off shelves on a daily basis.
Brynn sighed. Wild gestures weren’t Jamie’s thing. He was too even-tempered, too controlled for something like that.
“It required stitches,” he argued.
She laughed at his use of the plural. “Two,” she reminded him. “Two stitches and a girlfriend. You’re welcome.”
She did feel bad about him having to take a taxi to the ER, but Annie, her friend and owner of Two Stories, had just run to the bank to make a deposit. Brynn couldn’t leave the store unattended. Now she wondered what would have happened if she had gone, if she’d been with Jamie when he met Liz. Would it have been anything more than an ER visit? This line of thinking wasn’t going to get her anywhere.
She set the mug on his desk and helped him collect the markers.“Sorry,” she said. “About almost killing your mug.”