Excerpt: A Simple Kind of Love in Love, Simplified
About Love, Simplified:
Love, Simplified is a romance novel set primarily in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. The book focuses on the themes of leaving corporate America, living a simple life and of course, falling in love.
When workaholic Cecile Day realizes she isn’t living the life she wants, she uproots her life in Denver and moves to her family’s ramshackle cabin in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Cecile wants to slow down, move to the country and live a life full of the things money doesn’t buy, but her motives for moving aren’t quite that simple. She knows running from an array of demons, leaving a wealthy fiancé and high-powered career won’t be easy, but what she hopes to gain by moving is peace of mind, sense of self and lasting happiness.
Upon her move, Cecile meets her sexy neighbor, Ethan Morgan. Cecile quickly discovers Ethan can provide her with companionship and a simple, country life, that is, if she’ll let him. She feels haunted by her past mistakes and struggles to feel worthy of Ethan’s affections. Even though Cecile has worked hard to simplify her life, will she realize she can’t live without the most basic necessity of all: love.
“I’m sorry, this might hurt a little,” Ethan said as he wrapped Cecile’s ankle in a bandage. For a man of his size, his touch was gentle. Cecile became mesmerized as he wound the bandage and secured it with a metal clip. “All better,” he said with a smile, his blue eyes sparkling in the light.
“Where did you pick up your bandaging skills?” Cecile asked as she leaned her head back against the soft cushions of Ethan’s couch. After kayaking back to their cove, Ethan had helped a limping Cecile to his cabin, where he had a first aid kit.
“I used to volunteer for the Red Cross,” he admitted.
Cecile let out a small snort in disbelief. Okay, the man has to be a saint, if I doubted him before, this just sealed it, Cecile thought. Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Captain of the neighborhood watch. Former Red Cross volunteer. She definitely felt inferior, and like a slacker, when she compared her life with Ethan’s. In a sick twist of sarcastic self-loathing, Cecile imagined casually filling Ethan in on how and why she came to move to the cabin. Cecile stifled the urge to sigh. She may as well sport horns and a pointy tail.
“Hey, you okay?” Ethan asked.
“Yeah,” she said with a shrug of her shoulders. “Just been a long afternoon, I guess.”
“Well, if you didn’t want to hike down the bluff, you could’ve just said so. You didn’t have to twist your ankle to get me to carry you down, ya know,” Ethan said with a wink and a smile.
“Hey, a girl’s gotta have some insurance. I figured you’d take pity on a clumsy, wounded woman. You played right into my plan,” she said as she put both hands behind her head.
“Wow, I feel like I’ve been duped, here I just thought you had no grace, whatsoever. Now the truth comes out, you’re just a sneak.”
As Cecile shared a laugh with him, she stared into his eyes and realized his hand was still resting on the top of her shin, his powerful thigh cradling her ankle. For some reason, the intimacy of his contact with her body, coupled with the way his eyes were locked on hers caused a rush of heat to spread throughout her body.
Ethan moved his hand from her ankle and gently cupped her chin toward him. His mouth moving toward her lips was the last thing Cecile saw before closing her eyes. When his lips found hers, Cecile used her fingers to thread through the curls in the back of his head she’d admired only an hour beforehand. His soft tendrils glided through her fingers while his sensuous lips caressed her mouth. Ethan was the first to break them apart. For several moments he said nothing. He simply pulled back far enough to gaze into her eyes, while his fingertips gently stroked her jaw line.
Cecile knew her face was flushed and she could feel her heartbeat accelerate. Now she knew where she stood with Ethan. He didn’t merely think of her as a neighbor and friend. If his kiss hadn’t already let her know that, the way he stared into her eyes as he caressed her face left no room for doubt. She could no longer question or doubt what she felt for him.
What Cecile felt was no longer solely about physical attraction. It was true that no other kiss had rocked her like the one she’d just shared with Ethan, but it was more than that. No other man had handled her as though she were made of the finest, most delicate china. Nor had any other man gazed at her with such affection and admiration.
Cecile realized, as she silently took his large hand in her own, that she’d never felt such an instant connection with someone after one kiss. A reserved “ice queen” to her core, Cecile had never let anyone in so quickly. Usually Cecile liked to keep her partners at arm’s length. She liked being in control, she liked to call the shots. In the past, she’d preferred a man to ask permission before going for the first kiss. Never in her wildest dreams did she think she’d ever let a man take the first kiss the way Ethan had. It had never happened before, but the situation was different, she was different.
Ethan Morgan was different.
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