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When You're Back

Abbi Glines


  In publication order by series

  The Rosemary Beach series

  Fallen Too Far

  Never Too Far

  Forever Too Far

  Twisted Perfection

  Simple Perfection

  Take a Chance

  Rush Too Far

  One More Chance

  You Were Mine

  Kiro’s Emily (novella)

  When I’m Gone

  The Sea Breeze series


  Because of Low

  While It Lasts

  Just for Now

  Sometimes It Lasts


  Bad for You

  Hold on Tight

  The Vincent Boys series

  The Vincent Boys

  The Vincent Brothers

  The Existence series




  First published in Great Britain in 2015 by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd


  First published in the USA in 2015 by Atria Paperbacks,

  an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  Copyright © 2015 by Abbi Glines

  This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.

  No reproduction without permission.

  All rights reserved.

  The right of Abbi Glines to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

  Simon & Schuster UK Ltd

  1st Floor

  222 Gray’s Inn Road

  London WC1X 8HB

  Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney

  Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

  A CIP catalogue copy for this book is available from the British Library.

  ISBN: 978-1-4711-2236-1

  Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4711-2237-8

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.

  Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

  Simon & Schuster UK Ltd are committed to sourcing paper that is made from wood grown in sustainable forests and supports the Forest Stewardship Council, the leading international forest certification organisation. Our books displaying the FSC logo are printed on FSC certified paper

  To Abbi’s Army, the world’s best street team. I never imagined I’d have a group like this one, supporting my books and being there to lift me up when things get tough. I love you all, and I’m so thankful for each and every one of you.




















































  It had been twenty-two days, five hours, and thirty minutes since I’d said good-bye to Mase at O’Hare Airport. Once he was sure I was safe at my father’s house in Chicago with my newfound family, he returned to Texas to his family’s ranch, which just couldn’t run without him.

  Going back with him had been so tempting. I was ready to start my life with Mase, and I was anxious to make his home our home. But first, I needed to do this.

  A little more than a month ago, a polished, well-groomed Italian man had shown on my doorstep in Rosemary Beach, where I had worked as a maid for some of the town’s wealthiest families. Not too long after I’d met Mase, the father I had never known—and hadn’t even been sure was alive—had walked back into my life, wanting to be a part of it.

  Mase had been right there with me, holding my hand through it all. Benedetto had stayed with us in Rosemary Beach for a week, and then we’d all flown to Chicago together.

  I soon found out that not only did I have a father, but I also had a brother. He was two years younger than I and a total riot; Raul made me laugh constantly. I also had a grandmother, or nonna, as she preferred to be called. She loved to sit and talk with me for hours. She told me stories about my father when he was younger and showed me pictures from Raul’s childhood. She also told me how she’d pleaded with Benedetto to find me. He had his reasons for not coming after me. That was all he ever told anyone. I wanted to hate him for not coming for me when I was younger, but I couldn’t. My life had led me to Mase.

  The time I’d spent with them had been wonderful, but I had missed Mase. Talking to him every night wasn’t enough. I needed him. I needed him more than I needed a father, brother, and nonna. Mase was my family. The first person who had ever truly been there for me after a lifetime of abuse from my mother and stepfather.

  Now, finally, I was home—or in the place that had been about to become my home before my father had shown up. Mase and I were planning to move in together, but that hadn’t fully happened yet.

  I hadn’t let Mase know I was coming back early. I wanted to surprise him.

  The cab driver pulled up outside of Mase’s parents’ house on their sprawling ranch. A quick look at the dark house told me no one was home. Good. My surprise was just for Mase. I quickly paid the driver, pulled my one piece of luggage out of the trunk, and hurried toward the stables. Mase’s truck was parked outside beside another truck I didn’t recognize.

  I propped my suitcase beside his truck, then made my way down the small hill to the stables. I knew he’d be there, since he’d told me he wasn’t planning to train a horse that day. My heart was racing with excitement, and my hands itched to touch him. I was thankful I’d had time with my family, but I wasn’t leaving Mase again. If he couldn’t go with me to Chicago next time, then I wouldn’t go. They’d all just have to come visit me here.

  Female laughter drifted from the stables as I got closer. Was he handling a business deal? I didn’t want to interrupt him if this was a client. I couldn’t throw myself into his arms if he was in the middle of dealing with a horse and its owner. I paused outside the stables.

  “No, Mase, you promised me the other night that we’d go riding today. You can’t take that back now for work. I want my ride,” the woman said. Her voice sent a chill down my spine. It was young and flirty; she was too familiar with him.

  “I know I promised, but I have work to do. You’ll have to be patient,” he replied.

  “I’m going to bat my eyelashes and pout if I don’t get my way,” the female threatened.

  “No games today, Aida. I seriously have stuff to do. You’ve been monopolizing all of my time the past two days,” he said in a voice that had me backing up. I knew that voice. He used it with me.

  “But I’m bored, and you always entertain me,” she argued playfully

  “Seriously, I need you to give me some time to get things done today. I’ll entertain you tonight. We’ll go out, get something to eat. I’ll even take you dancing.”

  My heart cracked. What I was hearing couldn’t be interpreted many ways. Mase was spending time with another woman. He cared for her. I could hear it in his voice.

  I had assumed he was cheating on me once before. I didn’t want to do that again, but what else could this mean? I glanced at the truck parked beside his and then back at the door leading inside. My heart wanted me to run away and curl up in a ball to keep from falling apart.

  But my head was telling me I needed to face this. Whatever it was. I should at least give Mase the chance to explain before I left.

  All the excitement I had been feeling moments earlier completely died. I was filled with emotions I couldn’t even begin to untangle.

  The woman’s laughter floated outside, followed by Mase’s low chuckle, which always made me feel warm inside. He was enjoying himself. Being with this woman made him happy. Had I been gone for too long? Had he needed someone else?

  Or had he figured out that I wasn’t as special as he thought I was?

  “Hello. Can I help you?” the female voice asked.

  I snapped my head up to see her standing in the doorway of the stables as if she were about to leave. She was tall, with long blond hair pulled up in a ponytail. Without any makeup on, she was still stunning. Full lips and perfect white teeth. Her large green eyes seemed to glitter with happiness. Mase had that effect on women.

  “Are you here about a horse?” she asked, when I said nothing, just stood and stared at her. The jeans she was wearing were tight and showcased slender hips and tiny thighs. She was model-thin. I was not.

  “I-I, uh—” I stammered. How could I talk to this woman? I should have just left. Confronting Mase while she stood there, looking like a Barbie doll, was going to be impossible. He would look at the two of us standing side by side and see who was the better pick.

  “Are you lost?” she asked.

  Yes. I was completely lost. Everything I thought I knew was true, everything I thought was mine, wasn’t. “Maybe,” I whispered, then shook my head. “No. I came to see—”

  “Reese!” Mase’s voice boomed from behind the woman, and before I could say anything else, he was pushing past her and wrapping me up in his arms. “You’re here! Why didn’t you tell me you were coming home? I would’ve come to get you. God, you smell good. I missed this. I missed you so fucking much!”

  I stared over his shoulder at the woman, who was no longer smiling. She was staring at me as if I were repulsive.

  “I wanted . . . I wanted to sur-surprise you,” I tripped over my words, not sure what to think. I had heard him with her. I knew he was spending time with her, and she obviously didn’t want me here.

  He grabbed my face and covered my mouth with his. As unsure as I was and as hurt as I had been by what I’d heard between him and this woman, I quickly pushed my feelings to the side. The taste of Mase and the feel of his lips moving against mine always undid me. He feasted on my mouth, and I clung to him as I inhaled his scent. The flick of his tongue over mine made me shiver. Nothing else in the world mattered when I was with him like this.

  “Ahem. I’m still here, guys. Remember me?” The other woman’s voice broke through my delicious haze, and I froze. Pulling back from me, Mase actually chuckled and glanced back at the woman, keeping his arms tightly wrapped around me.

  “Sorry, Aida, my woman is home, and I’m going to be all kinds of tied up for at least the next forty-eight hours. Maybe more. Go find something to do back at the house,” he said, then kissed the tip of my nose as he turned his back on the woman again.

  “Kinda rude running off and leaving me and not introducing me to your friend,” she replied, with obvious distaste in her tone.

  Mase grinned down at me and winked. “She’s a diva. You’ll get used to her.” Then he turned his head toward the other woman. “Aida, this is Reese, the woman I haven’t shut up about. The one I talk to for hours every night.” He turned his attention back to me. “Reese, meet my only girl cousin, Aida. She’s a bit spoiled, a lot dramatic, and easily bored.”

  Cousin? If that’s all she was, why was she glaring at me like I was standing in her way?

  I looked back at Aida, and she smirked. Although I was comforted by the knowledge that they were related, something about the way she looked at me felt like a challenge.

  How . . . odd.


  Having Reese in my arms again helped ease the frustration that she hadn’t let me know she was coming home. I would have picked her up from the airport. I didn’t like the idea of her arriving with no one to welcome her.

  “Did you take a cab?” I asked, not liking the idea of that, either.

  She nodded but didn’t say more.

  “I wish you’d called me.” I pulled her against me and walked her back toward my truck. I was tucking her inside and getting her to our home. Where she belonged.

  “I thought surprising you would be fun.” She seemed off, like she was upset. Maybe she was just tired from traveling.

  “I’d say call me next time, but there won’t be a next time. I’m not going to be separated from you like that again. If you want to go to Chicago, I’ll go with you.”

  Her body seemed to relax then as she leaned closer to me. This was what I needed today. Aida was exhausting and demanding. Having her here had helped ease the hurt of missing Reese but only because she was full of distracting, nonstop chatter.

  As soon as Momma got home she would have to entertain Aida.

  I took Reese’s suitcase and put it in the back of my truck, then slid a hand under her perfect ass and lifted her in. The giggle that escaped from her sent a warm sensation rushing through my veins. I needed her laughter.

  “I’m not letting you leave my side for at least two days. I’m needy,” I said as I climbed in. “Besides, I picked you up a couple of books at the library last week. I’m ready for you to read them to me.”

  She laid her head on my shoulder and sighed contentedly. “I read to you almost every night while I was gone.”

  “Yeah, but you weren’t naked in my bed.”

  She laughed again, making everything in my life feel perfect. She was what I had been waiting for. Everything before her had been dull, including the girls. No one had made me feel the excitement of waking up every morning and seeing her face. Or going to bed every night with her in my arms.

  “You want me to read naked in bed?” she asked in an amused tone.

  “Hell, yeah, I do. I want you to do everything naked.”

  Reese tilted her head back and looked up at me. “You’re not serious.”

  I glanced down at her smiling face. “Yes, baby. When I’m talking about you being naked, I’m very, very serious.”

  She laughed again and I pulled her closer to me. This was what I needed.

  Reese headed inside as I lifted her suitcase out of the back. I took a moment to watch her walking into my house, soon to be our house. It felt different with her here. She brought warmth and sunshine with her.

  Glancing back over her shoulder, she smiled. “Are you coming?”

  “I was just enjoying the view,” I replied with a grin, and I made my way to join her.

  As soon as I was through the door, I set her suitcase down and reached for her. She squealed in surprise as I picked her up and carried her over to the sofa. Sinking down onto the worn leather, I held her in my lap as she clung to my shoulders.

  “Welcome home,” I said, just before I captured her lips with mine.

  The guy in me wanted to strip her naked and fuck her against the door. But the man who knew what she needed was going to hold her and love her a little while first. I never wanted to make her think it was all about sex for me. I had been in love with her before we’d ever had sex. She was too precious to be treated like a hot piece of ass . . . although her ass
was divine.

  Reese took my hat off and tossed it onto the seat beside us, then sank her fingers into my hair. Her kisses were like warm honey, and I was pretty damn sure I could just do this forever. Soft curves in my hands and the mouth of an angel were more than I had ever imagined. Reese was more than I had ever imagined.

  The soft plumpness of her lips brushed against my bristly chin as she trailed kisses over my face. “You haven’t shaved,” she whispered.

  “I wasn’t expecting you.”

  “I like it. It’s sexy,” she murmured, and her mouth came back to mine.

  “It’ll hurt your soft skin,” I replied, before taking her kiss deeper and drowning myself in the sweetness. My hands slid under her shirt to touch her heated skin, and she shivered in my arms.

  “I think I’d like it to hurt a little. If it’s you that’s doing it,” she said, shifting in my lap until she was straddling me. Her dark hair fell around her shoulders as she gave me a shy, sexy little smile that made my blood pump harder.

  I reached up and cupped her face and brushed my thumbs across her cheeks. “I could never hurt this skin. That would be tragic.”

  She blushed and leaned forward, pressing her face into my hands. “I need you,” she whispered. The spark of excitement in her eyes was all I needed.

  “Lift your arms up.” She didn’t question me but did exactly as I said. I took her shirt off carefully and placed it beside us. Taking in the sight of her in a bra made me feel like a teenager again, seeing tits for the first time. Fuck, I’d missed those.

  “I want them in my mouth, but I need to shave,” I told her, unable to stop soaking in the sight of them.

  “Please, Mase. I want to feel your scruff on my skin. I love it. I really do.”

  She was going to drive me crazy. I wanted to see the marks of me on her skin, too. I felt guilty wanting to hurt her in any way, but hearing her beg for it was too tough to ignore.

  I reached behind her and unclasped her bra. My heart thudded in my chest as both full breasts fell free. Those perfect pebbled nipples needed me as much as I needed them.

  Fuck it. I bent my head and pulled one into my mouth, letting it roll over my tongue. Reese’s sighs and moans as she pulled tightly at my hair sent my adrenaline spiking. I wanted to bite down and hear her scream in pleasure. But I couldn’t. I never wanted to scare her or hurt her. I wanted her always to feel safe and cherished in my arms.