Published by Self-Published on 11/26/2016
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Jack Valentini isn’t my type.
Sexy, brooding cowboys are fine in the movies, but in real life, I prefer a suit and tie. Proper manners. A close shave.
Jack might be gorgeous, but he’s also scruffy, rugged, and rude. He wants nothing to do with a “rich city girl” like me, and he isn’t afraid to say so.
But I’ve got a PR job to do for his family’s farm, so he’s stuck with me and I’m stuck with him. His glares. His moods. His tight jeans. His muscles.
His huge, hard muscles.
Pretty soon there’s a whole different kind of tension between us, the kind that has me misbehaving in barns, trees, and pickup trucks. I’ve never done anything so out of character—but it feels too good to stop.
And the more I learn about the grieving ex-Army sergeant, the better I understand him. Losing his wife left him broken and bitter and blaming himself. He doesn’t think he deserves a second chance at happiness.
But he’s wrong.
I don’t need to be his first love. If only he’d let me be his last.
If you’re a follower of this blog you’ll know that I am a big time Melanie Harlow fan. Even though I haven’t read and reviewed all of the titles in her catalog, the ones I have have made me laugh, cry, feel angry or sad; sometimes all in the same book, even. They’re all unforgettable, always having something uniquely Melanie that allows them to stand out from the others and her latest release, After We Fall, is no different.
After We Fall beautifully showcases Harlow’s strength as a storyteller through skilled writing that has a focus on characters that are engaging and multifaceted. The character development here is truly unmatched in any other Harlow novel and I applaud her decision to tackle such a sensitive issue. The result is an incredibly well balanced love story that will make you laugh out loud, shed a tear or twenty, then swoon like a lovesick teen.
If this is what we can come to expect from Melanie in future novels, I’m beyond excited. I definitely recommend this one and can’t wait to hear how you’re #FallingForJack.
At five thirty, I gave up on sleep and tugged on running shorts, a tank top, and running shoes. If I couldn’t sleep, I might as well try to get a little exercise. I figured I’d make my way up to the highway, then head across and up the dirt road next to the Valentini farm. Scout it out a bit.
I put my hair up, locked the door, and tucked the cottage key into the little hidden pocket on my shorts before setting off at a light jog. Behind me, the sun was just peeking up over the lake, turning the sky a gorgeous orange-pink. The punishing heat of the day was hours away, and the air felt cool and refreshing against my arms and legs. I smiled at an early dog walker and an old couple out for a hand-in-hand sunrise stroll, but my spirits flagged when I reached the highway and realized I should have gone to the bathroom before I left.
Oh, well. I’d be OK for a quick jog, wouldn’t I? I’d just loop around their property and head back. How big could a “small farm” be?
As it turns out, pretty fucking big.
I headed west on the dirt road—past the orchard, big plots planted with vegetables, a pasture, and finally thick woods. By the time I turned left at the far edge of their property, I had to go, and the pressure in my bladder quickly escalated from bad to worse.
Biting my lip, I eyed the woods behind the Valentini fence on my left and the open pasture of someone else’s farm on the right before glancing back the way I’d come. I hadn’t seen a single soul back here. But…but I was outside. Could I really?
I don’t think I need to tell you I’m not a terribly outdoorsy type of girl. My idea of “roughing it” is a three-star hotel, I certainly don’t camp, and the one time I had to use a port-o-potty at a concert Jaime dragged me to I thought I was going to die of disgust. Or a bacterial infection.
Would peeing outside like an animal be worse than the port-o-potty? What would I use to wipe myself? I’d heard stories about girls having to do this before, but clearly I’d never paid close enough attention! Did you drip dry like a boy? Use a leaf? But I had sensitive skin! And what if I used poison ivy by mistake? Or some other harmful plant? Wasn’t there something called poison oak? I didn’t know what those things looked like! Why hadn’t I brought my phone? Throwing scones was one thing, but this was something I still found dreadfully unpalatable.
I hopped from foot to foot, desperately wishing for another solution to magically present itself so I would not have to relinquish my dignity or give my vagina a poisonous rash. But none appeared, so I climbed over the Valentinis’ fence and ducked into the trees, cursing myself for being so out of it before I left the cottage.
Hurrying across the forest floor of dirt and pine needles and dry leaves, I moved away from the road until I couldn’t see it anymore. I was about to squat (good grief, what an inelegant word) when I heard a splash nearby. Gasping, I straightened up and looked around, frantically yanking my shorts back into place. When I heard another splash, I cautiously made my way in that direction.
Oh my God!
Not far from where I’d been about to relieve myself was a clearing in the trees, and beyond it was a small lake. Jutting into the lake was a short wooden dock, on which stood Jack Valentini, dripping wet and buck fucking naked.
It was as if an electrical switch had been flipped inside me. Suddenly I was driven by one gut instinct: I need a better view. There was a weeping willow about twenty feet closer to the lake, and without giving it a second thought, I darted toward it and then scrambled up onto a low branch.
Yes, I actually climbed a tree.
Hanging onto a branch above my head, I carefully side-stepped out a little bit and peered through the leaves. Tongue caught between my teeth, I watched him push his wet hair back from his face and stretch a little, arms over his head. Hmm, a farmer’s tan is actually a thing.
My eyes automatically went low, and my jaw dropped when I saw the size of his dick. If it was that big when it wasn’t even hard, how big would it get when it was? Suddenly I felt like a kid who’d been told she could look at her birthday cake but not taste it. A hundred irrational—and frankly perverted—thoughts assaulted my brain.
I want to see him get hard. I want to touch him. I want my mouth on him. I want to watch him touch himself. Damn, he’s huge. I want to be fucked with a cock like that. I bet it could tear me apart. Christ, he could probably fuck me from clear over there.
No! No, he should find me here. He should discover me in the woods and get angry. Then he’d have to punish me for spying on him. He’d be ruthless.
I realized I was panting.
What the hell was the matter with me? I’d never had these kinds of thoughts about anyone, let alone a veritable stranger. Was I having a midlife crisis at age twenty-nine?
He turned away from me, giving me a chance to appreciate the nice round butt I’d noticed in the photo, but also the muscular back and shoulders, the tattoos that snaked around to his ribs on his right side. What were they? I’d never known a man with tattoos before, not personally. And I’d definitely never seen one naked.
I hadn’t seen that many men naked at all, really. Maybe that was my problem—fascination, sort of like he was a museum exhibit or exotic animal or circus sideshow. The male bodies I’d seen in the flesh were pale and thin—nothing like the beautiful work of art in front of me now, which had bulges and ridges and lines, the morning sun burnishing his skin to bronze. I wanted to—
The branch I was standing on snapped, and I hit the ground in an ungraceful belly flop.
(Also, I may have peed myself. Just slightly.)
I picked up my head and looked at Jack, shocked to see he’d quite literally hit the deck, his body flattened against the wood. A second later he looked up and saw me. Not the discovery fantasy I’d concocted by a long shot.
Oh, Jesus. This is worse than Sconehenge.
How the hell was I going to explain myself?