The first kiss scene in a romance novel is monumental. It represents that first intimate step taken between the two main characters and conjures all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings.But what if that first kiss isn't so perfect? What if that first kiss was actually the first kiss after fifteen years of being apart, and, in between, the hero has experienced grief so deeply, he no longer knows or trusts his instincts when it comes to love and timing?
This is the case for Mitch Mathews in Sweet from the Vine when he shares a first-kiss with his first ever girlfriend, Matilda, fifteen years after separating. To add to the enormity of that, this is also Mitch's first kiss after losing his wife nineteen months ago.
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Sweet from the Vine
‘It’s uncanny being back. It feels like everything is still the same—it sure looks the same—yet there are these slight differences and a history I’m not privy to. Mum had kept me up to date, sure, but with superficial things. The life of everyone here has continued on at a much deeper level.’
‘A lot can happen in fifteen years,’ he said feeling the truth of that in his bones.
‘Yeah, to those that leave too.’
‘You’ve hardly changed, Mitch,’ she said. ‘A little older, but still the same.’
‘I thought the same about you,’ he said before taking another drink from his beer bottle. His body was light, and he was swimming through his mind to find words and form them properly with his lips.
She reached for him and stroked a hand over his cheek. ‘Stubble’s thicker.’
His next breath came harder, quicker. He tried not to close his eyes when the sensation from that simple touch turned to bliss in his body. ‘A little,’ he said, voice deeper, even to his own ears.
In nineteen months that was the first intimate touch he had received. He hadn’t realised how much his body yearned for more touches exactly like that.
Her exquisite eyes held his for a long, silent moment, and within those eyes, he saw himself—how he used to be, how he was with her, how he was before his store of love was lowered into the ground and buried.
He liked who he used to be. He missed him.
Her hand slowly roamed down his cheek and held his jaw. ‘I missed you. After I left. For a long time.’
He couldn’t stop his eyes closing for the length of his next breath. How long he had wanted to hear her admit that to him. When he gazed into her eyes again, he whispered, ‘I missed you too.’ He had wanted to hate her for leaving, but he could never find it within himself to do so.
‘And I know I never got a chance to say this, and maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all now these years later, but I’m really sorry to have hurt you … us.’
His entire body sighed with his exhale. That apology gently caressed the part of him that had held onto the heartache he had endured when she left. It surprised him. ‘We were young. We did what we thought was right.’
Her hand moved away from his jaw and he tensed, wanting it back.
‘Yeah, that’s true.’ Her shoulders slumped.
‘Hey,’ he said, voice soft, empathetic. The last thing he wanted was to make her feel bad for a decision she made when she was eighteen.
She looked at him.
He managed a warm smile. ‘Don’t worry about it. It happened. No hard feelings, okay?’
She smiled too as she nodded. ‘Thanks.’ Then the smile gradually slipped from her lips as an intensity overtook her features.
That expression found a place within him, made his blood flow at a different pace, hotter. His breaths shallowed, head lightened.
Her lips were all he could see. His desire to lean in and kiss her drowned out everything else in this moment. When her face shifted closer, her shoulders, chest, he reached for her and stroked his fingers across her neck to her nape where they rested, gentle.
Warmth sunk deep into his flesh when her hand landed on his shoulder and the other touched his face. Those lips, full and gently parted, were the focus of his attention. And when she came closer, he closed his eyes.
Her lips pressed against his and oh god, it was like any attraction, any yearning they held for one another, amplified in that moment and spread like fire through him. His pulse raced.
She leant back, their lips separated for the smallest of moments before he leant in again for more, not wanting to feel that space between them.
He wanted so much more. He opened her mouth with his, and their tongues met. The sensation of that soft warmth against his own tongue was like a shot through him.
And then the most painful pang struck his chest, and he drew back with a gasp.
He had forgotten.
He had stupidly forgotten the past two years, the five years of marriage before that. How could he? How dare he?
He stood and accidentally hit his beer, knocking it across the table. Bubbles spilled from it. Amy gasped as it sped for her, but Tom reached out before it went any further and stopped it.
Mitch was shaking his head. Shocked and bemused that he had let it get to this. He had kissed Matilda. But he had not only kissed her, he had loved every second of it.
How could he? How dare he?
His mouth flapped open and shut and Matilda stared with confusion up at him. ‘I shouldn’t have …’ He shook his head again. ‘I …’ he pointed to the door, checked his wallet was in his back pocket and marched away, desperate to get out of there.
‘Mitch,’ came a few voices from behind him.
But he ignored them, kept for the door. He burst outside and put his hands to his head, gasping in the cold night air. What had he just done? His chest was burning with pain, with the remembrance of one glaring reason he shouldn’t have kissed Matilda: Rachel.
A second chance at love in the beautiful Ovens Valley – if he just has the courage to take it...
Matilda James never thought she’d ever return to Alpine Ridge, the small town she grew up in and couldn’t wait to leave. But when her desire to have children proves too great a strain on her childless marriage, she heads back home for a tree-change, determined to find a partner with the same life goals. Good luck and good timing lands her a dream marketing role on a breathtaking vineyard. The only hitch is her boss – her old high school flame. But Matilda is a professional, and that relationship is old news.
Mitch nearly lost everything when he lost his wife, and he’s worked hard ever since to support and protect the most important people in his life – his two brothers and his beautiful, miraculous daughter. When his high school sweetheart, Matilda, starts working on the vineyard, he still feels the attraction, but the pain of his past is too close and too constant to ever consider acting on it.
But soon the sparks between Matilda and Mitch grow so bright they can’t be ignored. Matilda is forced to question what she truly wants in life and how far she is willing to push to get what she deserves. And Mitch must learn that moving on is not a betrayal and find the courage to fight for a future he could never have imagined.
This books is scheduled for release 4 December 2018. Available for pre-order now!
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