The Edge of Heaven


The McRaes Series -- Book 2

Emma



She looks at him and thinks, "Please don't let him be more than twenty-five." 

He looks at her and thinks, "Please let her be at least twenty-five." 

Neither one of them is. 

And that's only one of their problems. 

Rye is a man with an ugly past. He didn't come to Baxter, Ohio, looking for a woman, but there she was. Emma is pretty and sweet, and the kind of woman he'd always wanted, but never dreamed he could have. Her innocence and vulnerability tugs at Rye's weary heart, and the sizzling sexual pull between them can't be ignored. 

But Emma has a dangerous ex-boyfriend, plus an outraged, overprotective father with a family connection that dooms Rye and Emma's relationship from the start. 
That and Rye's dangerous past make it seem impossible for them to have a future together. 

Read An Excerpt

 

 

 



"How old are you?"
 
He practically growled, as the scent of her, straight from her bath, settled deep in his lungs, warm and languid. It made him hungry in ways he didn't want to think about.
 
"How old do you think I am?" She drifted a bit closer, the smell coming along with her.
 
Vanilla, he realized a moment later. She smelled like vanilla.
 
It made him think of warm cream dribbled over something sweet and sinful. Emma and warm, smooth vanilla cream.
 
If the smell of her wasn't dangerous enough, the sight of her was even harder to take. Her skin was still flushed from the heat and slightly damp in places, as if she'd toweled off in a hurry. Her hair was piled carelessly on her head and the pieces of it that had escaped were damp, too.
 
Her cheeks were flushed, and she looked all fresh faced and innocent and young. He had to remind himself he didn't mess around with nice women like her, not anymore.
 
"Something smells good," she said, coming closer, bringing that scent into the kitchen with her.
 
Rye bit back a reply, something that would likely have come out as, Something certainly does.
 
"Hungry?" he said instead, too late realizing that probably wasn't the best conversation opener, either.
 
"Yes." She came right up beside him, damp and warm, and she might as well have doused herself in vanilla cream.
 
Dessert, he thought. Emma.
 
She turned to the cabinets. Opening one, she raised up on her toes to reach the top shelf, giving him a perfect view of her tempting backside encased in a pair of jeans that fit like a glove and hugged every enticing curve.
 
Abruptly, he remembered he had to know one thing about her. “Twenty-three?” he guessed. “Maybe twenty-five?"
 
"Close enough," she said. She eased down off her toes, two plates in hand, seeming to take delight in throwing it right back at him.
 
But at least she was smiling. He liked seeing Emma smile. Trying not to growl at her or take a bite of her, he thought, Please, let her be twenty-five.
 
"Emma?" He took a plate from her and filled one for her, cheese crepes topped with a sauce he'd made using some of her aunt's blackberry jam and some whipped cream.
 
"It's just a number, right?" she said, taking her plate and smiling mischievously.
 
"No, it's not just a number."
 
Not when he was thinking he might be ten years older than she was, maybe even more. Not that he was going to let anything happen between them. Still…
 
"I'm starving," Emma said. "Can we eat?"
 
He frowned. "You didn't tell me how old you are."
 
"Old enough," she claimed, seating herself on one side of the breakfast bar and waiting for him to do the same.
 
He made a plate for himself, sat down across from her, a good bit of pretty granite countertop stretching between them, which had seemed like a good idea at the time. But it meant he got a front-row seat as every spoonful went into her delectable-looking mouth.
 
And he was supposed to be figuring out how old she was, dammit.
 
He had a nagging sense that he wasn't going to like her answer, once he got one out of her. But honestly, how young could she possibly be? She'd said she was finishing college. So she had to be twenty-one or twenty-two.
Twenty-one?
 
He frowned.
 
Twenty-one-year-olds were practically infants, weren't they? Didn't they still giggle and flirt shamelessly and guzzle beer at parties with frat boys?
 
She probably went to parties with frat boys.
 
Rye sat there while she moaned and groaned in appreciation over bite after bite. He tried to block out the sound, because it made him think of Emma in her bath, in her vanilla-scented water with her now vanilla-scented skin.
 
If she was a day over twenty-three and he was anyone but who he was, he would have let himself imagine feeding her crepes in the bathtub, getting her out, and eating her up.
 
"What's wrong?" she asked.
 
He looked up at her, finding her chewing slowly, her pretty mouth pursed into something that looked like a kiss at the moment. "Nothing."
 
"Bad news?"
 
"No. Nothing like that," he promised.
 
"You'll stay here today?" She stared at her plate. Her face tilted forward. Her hair fell across her bruised cheek.
 
"I don't know if that's such a good idea, Emma. You don't even know me." He'd never hurt her, but hell, she didn't know that.
 
"You're going back to trying to convince me not to trust you?"
 
"Hey, a little skepticism is a great thing, especially when you're a young, beautiful woman."
 
"I'm not—"
 
She broke off, her cheeks flushed all the more, not looking at him now. He closed his eyes and bit back a curse. She was getting to him. That sweet, fresh-faced, innocent look of hers was killing him.
 
"I just want you to be safe, Emma, and I want both of us to be able to sleep tonight." Not that he had a prayer of that, not after smelling that Emma-after-her-bath smell and seeing her all flushed and fresh faced, her tight little jeans, and innocent eyes.
 
"And someone who was out to hurt me would say things like that?"
 
"He would if he was smart. It sure seems to be working for me. After all, I'm right here with you," he said, frustration getting the better of him.
 
"You think I'm an idiot, don't you?" She went from flattered to mad in about half a second.
 
"I think you can't be too careful. Look at what this jerk did to you."
 
"I know." She touched a hand to her bruised cheek, as if to test and see if it were still there, still as bad as she remembered. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to drag you into my problems."
 
"You haven't dragged me anywhere, Emma," he admitted, taking those inevitable steps closer. He could rest his hands on her shoulders or maybe hold her hands. That seemed safe. He did that, just took both her hands in his.
 
"I've come quite willingly. I'm afraid I'm just not that good at taking care of anyone. I've been on my own for a long time now."
 
"I think you're doing just fine at taking care of me. And…Well…"
 
She eased up on her tiptoes and placed a frustratingly brief, soft kiss on his lips this time. "And I appreciate it. Thank you."
 
He just stood there. There was something so innocent about that little kiss. It might as well have been another peck on the cheek, like the one she'd given him earlier when she'd been so scared and he'd held her in his arms.
 
Except it rocked him all the way down to his toes again.
 
"Emma," he warned, holding himself absolutely still and straight.
 
"Hmm?" She brought her hands up to rest ever so lightly against his chest. The delicate touch burned right through the fabric of his shirt. She still smelled so good and the world was spinning oddly around him.
 
He hadn't had anyone to hang on to in so long, and how her mere presence could be so comforting and so unsettling at the same time, he could not understand. But he couldn't pry his hands off her.
 
"Things are crazy right now," he said.
 
"I know. For me, too."
 
And yet she stayed stubbornly right there, her face maybe an inch from his. He wanted to tell her she really shouldn't go around kissing men she barely knew, even those little pecks on the cheek. They gave a man ideas.
 
"I think I like you," she said. "Is that such a bad thing?"
 
"Yes. It's a very bad thing.
The Series In Order
Twelve Days  Book 1
The Edge of Heaven Book 2
Bed of Lies Book 3
Five Days Grace Book 4
Hero of my Heart Book 5

Christmas with

the McRaes

Box Set-

Books 1, 2, 3


More of the McRaes