Christian Montgomery is burnt out—the family business might be his entire world, but his father’s judgment means Christian never stops working. His only respite is gazing at the beach and the carefree surfers riding the waves…especially the curvy redhead who’s caught his attention.
Sophia Bennington has just fled from her small Kansas town to California, where she’s trying her best to embrace her new beginning. Soon Christian and Sophia find one another, and it feels like sanctuary. But when their difficult pasts catch up to them, will they run away from each other?
“I hate jogging.”
Christian came to a halt on the sand and turned to see Sophie bent at the waist, breathing hard. She waved him on as she shook her head, her long ponytail swinging from side to side. “Um…what?”
Angling her head, she glared at him. “I hate this. The jogging. It’s totally not my thing.” Then she let out a loud breath. “There. I said it.”
When he was beside her, he crouched to get eye-level with her. “If you wanted to stop, you just had to say so. I know I picked up the pace there, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to keep up.”
She shoved him and he fell back on his ass, and couldn’t help but laugh. When she went to straighten, he grabbed her hand and tugged her on the sand beside him. “Christian!” she cried. “Dammit, now there’s going to be sand everywhere.”
“It’s a beach. Of course there’s sand everywhere.”
“Seriously?” she deadpanned. “I meant on my clothes.”
“Ah. Gotcha,” he said. “So what’s going on?”
She grimaced as she tried to get comfortable. “I’m not a runner. I thought I could be, but I can’t.”
“Oh. Okay.” He paused. “Then why did you keep agreeing to come with me?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I thought I wasn’t giving it a fair shot. My surfing isn’t improving, so I thought maybe this would be something different to try. Turns out, I hate it.”
“Hate’s a bit of a strong word,” he countered. “I mean maybe—”
“No. Trust me. I hate it.”
Message received. If her words weren’t strong enough, the vehemence behind them and the scowl on her face were.
“O-kay,” he responded slowly. “So do you want to head back to the house?”
“Only if we can walk,” she said, coming to her feet. Without looking at him, Sophie began walking away. Christian quickly scrambled to his feet and went after her, grasping her shoulder and forcing her to face him.
“Hey. What’s going on? Are you mad at me?”
Her shoulders sagged and her brows furrowed. “No. Why would you even ask that?”
“Soph, you got up and started walking away, what was I supposed to think?”
“Maybe that I was heading back to your house?”
As much as he wanted to take her at her word, something was up. Her tone and her stance were both defensive, and if there was one thing he was learning about Sophie, it was that she rarely acted this way. She was always smiling and encouraging. When she went to move out of his grasp, Christian held firm. When she tugged a second time, she growled with frustration.
“What?” she cried. “What is your problem?”
“My problem?” he parroted, loudly. “Sweetheart, that’s a question for you. You can’t possibly be this upset over jogging.”
“Who says I’m upset?” she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
Christian leaned in until they were almost nose-to-nose. “You’re acting awful dodgy, Soph.”
“Dodgy? You’re calling me dodgy?” she asked incredulously and then pulled back. “Wait. What’s dodgy?”
He laughed. “Sorry, love. Every once in a while, some lingo I picked up while I lived in London slips out. I have no idea why.”
“Are you insulting me?”
His eyes went wide. “You know what, you are acting dodgy. Which—for the record—means you’re acting suspiciously. Now, I don’t know about you, but I can stand out here all night and wait you out. I’ve got nothing else to do, since we’re not jogging. So you can either spill it and tell me what’s got you all twisted up or we can stand here until the tide comes in. Your choice.”
And for a minute, he thought she was going to opt to wait for the tide to come in.
Thankfully, she started to speak.
“Fine. I—” She stopped and sighed. “I hated having to confess about jogging.”
Seriously? That was it?
“Back home, I never would have said anything. I would have just kept doing it and hating every second of it. Since I moved, I made the decision not to do that anymore. After all, there’s no reason for me to do things I don’t like, right?”
“Well, no but—”
“I believe in honesty,” she went on, as if Christian hadn’t said a word. “And I expect it in return.”
When she looked up at him, her green eyes were wide and sad. “Why are you here, Christian?”
Not sure where this was going, he replied, “Because we said we were going jogging.”
Shaking her head, Sophie reworded her question. “I mean, why are you here with me?”
Now he was confused. “Same answer. I don’t understand where—”
“Gah!” she cried and pulled out of his grasp. She paced a few feet away and returned. “You’re out here jogging because your doctor encouraged you to get out and get some exercise, right?”
“And you’re out here because you left work at a reasonable hour and this was a way to pass the time, right?”
He nodded again.
If anything, her expression grew even sadder. “You don’t need me to jog with you, Christian. I’m sure you have other friends you could have called to do this with you if you really didn’t want to run alone.”
His mouth opened and closed, because he didn’t have a clue how to respond to it. He did have friends—not a lot, but there were certainly guys he could call to go for a run with him. But if truth be told, he didn’t want to run with them. He enjoyed the time he and Sophie spent together, and he’d been hoping that the more time they spent around each other, the more she’d see that they could be more than friends.
So far, that hadn’t happened.
Now it sounded as if she wasn’t even interested in being his friend.
So he had to speak up, and hopefully wipe that sad look off her face.
“Look, I could call a buddy or two to jog with me, but I’ve enjoyed spending time with you. I thought you felt the same way. But if I read something that wasn’t there—if you were only being nice because of the whole anxiety attack thing—then…you should know that you’re not obligated to be here. And there’s certainly no pressure for us to be friends.”
“I’m sorry if I’m monopolizing your time,” he said quietly. “I’m sorry if I made you feel like turning down my offer of friendship wasn’t an option. That was never my intention.”
“Now I’m confused,” she said.
Sinking both of his hands into his hair and tugging with frustration, he went on. “I don’t want to be a charity case, Sophie. Clearly, it’s been far too long since I’ve tried to be friends with a woman and I suck at it. I thought it was what you wanted and—”
He shook his head. “No. It’s really not. The look on your face says otherwise.” With a weary sigh, Christian turned and started toward his house. “I should’ve just kept my damn distance. This is why I work so much—because dealing with relationships on any level is awkward as hell.”
Sophie fell in step beside him—almost jogging to keep up with his much longer stride. “Okay, I think we’re having two different conversations, because I never said I didn’t want to be friends. I just don’t want to jog.”
Snorting with disbelief, he kept walking.
“For the love of it,” she snapped, grabbing his arm. “Will you slow down? I already told you I hate jogging and you’re making me jog to keep up!”
When he stopped abruptly, they collided. Christian reached out to steady her before she fell over and then instantly released her. Touching Sophie was so not what he needed right now. He looked at her expectantly, although the last thing he wanted was to hear her make excuses for why he’d misread the situation.
This series continues to tick on as fabulously today as it did day one! Normally, for me, I find that family series tend to get stale after 4 or 5 books …. The Montgomery family hasn’t even slightly bored me yet LOL I LOVE IT
Christian and Sophie …. Let me tell ya something about these two kinds .. ridiculously well suited for each other. I don’t really know even if the author knew how good these two were for each other. If you dig deep and pay attention, it’s like they were each other’s glue. You see, they both have baggage. Not with each other, but their own. Baggage that has nothing to do with each other at all, except they are each other’s calm to their personal storms … does that make sense? I hope so. I read this book in mere hours because of it. It is always such a pleasure when two characters are developed so in tune with each other the way Christian and Sophie were!
Okay so the story … cute as can be and heartwarming as heck! Everything from the initial meet cute to the next day was just adorable and honestly, it fit the two of them really well! This story was sexy and full of heart all at the same time. Well done!