THINKING 'BOUT YOU
by Claire Hastings
Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Release Date: March 23, 2023
Lindee Robinson Photography
To the world, he’s Dustin Wild, country star with a megawatt smile and a voice smooth as whiskey. To me, he’ll always be Dustin Wilder, the small-town boy who stole my heart…then broke it.
It’s been seven years since Dustin rolled out of our rural Georgia town, chasing his dream, promising he’d be back. Except that never happened. Instead, he topped the charts, trading in our future plans for a life that didn’t involve me at all.
I thought I’d moved on. Until the town busybodies invite Dustin back to Hickory Hills to perform at the annual Rhythm and Brews Festival.All I can do is swoon when he says my name or flashes me that smile. And by the way he’s looking at me, my heart can’t help but hope he feels the same.
I’ve got my eyes wide open this time, and I won’t let him hurt me again.
That is, until ghosts from our past have something to say about our second chance.
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“Are you okay to drive home?” he asks, stopping at my car door.
“I was kinda hoping the answer would be no, so I had to drive you.”
“How would I get to work tomorrow if my car were still here?”
“Guess I’d just have to pick you up for breakfast too then.”
I swoon, Dustin’s perfect answer locked and loaded. Of course it is.
“I had a great time tonight, Kenz,” he whispers.
We stand there for a moment, anticipation hanging in the air. It’s like we’re teenagers again, neither of us wanting to make the first move, desperately waiting for the other to do something. Only difference is, we know how much trouble that will cause. Just how much my heart will hurt when he leaves again.
“Night,” I say, breaking the silence. Unlocking my car, I barely get the driver door open when Dustin spins me around.
His ice-blue eyes darken, his lips upturned into a smirk. Carefully tucking a wisp of hair behind my ear, he cups my jaw, running his thumb along my cheek, butterflies taking flight inside me. My whole body is on fire, desperate for him to act. To do what I don’t have the courage to.
I don’t have to wait long though. Half a breath later his lips lightly graze mine, in a soft, gentle, chaste kiss.
Pulling back just as swiftly as he’d leaned in, Dustin steps back, hands dropping to his sides. My pulse doesn’t know whether to speed up or slow down, my lips tingling from the brief contact. I can barely think—the only thing rushing through my brain is how I want more.
“Shhhh,” he says, pressing his forehead to mine. “I’m going to do that for real, promise. Just not tonight. But, Kenz, when I do, I promise, it’s going to be the best fucking kiss of your entire life.”
Another chaste press of his lips to my forehead, and he turns to go, leaving me pressed up against my open car door, head still dazed.
Because what Dustin Wilder doesn’t know is that right there might have been the best kiss of my life, and it hadn’t lasted but two seconds.
Forget walls. I’m going to need to dig a moat.
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