Riley's Love Connection

A Mossy Oak Reader-made romance

chapter 3

Riley shrugs into her jacket and flips her hair so it falls down her back in dark waves. She casts a shy glance over her shoulder at me, and I wonder if she’s already regretting the kiss.

Riley is hard to read. She’s open and friendly, but there’s something reserved about her. She’s guarded as if she’s been hurt before. The person responsible for the pain in her eyes better hope he never meets me.

She liked the kiss, though. Just as much as I did. The way she raised up on her tiptoes, her soft breasts pressing against my chest, lingers in my mind. 

She flashes me a sweet smile as she grabs her purse. “What would you have done if I said I hated motorcycles?”

We step outside, and Riley locks her door. When she sneaks a glance at my bike, I see the excitement in her eyes.

 

“I had a feeling you liked them,” I say. 

“Motorcycles are dangerous,” she says.

“I was an EMT before I became a firefighter.” It’s all I have to say. I’ve seen firsthand how dangerous motorcycles can be. I’m also addicted to the thrill of riding my bike along the winding mountain parkway. I’ll never give up riding. 

I can’t help watching Riley’s ass as she walks in front of me. It’s so freaking cute. I want to get my hands on it, pronto. But I need to take it slow. Riley isn’t like other women. 

It took me forever to get a date with her. I spent Friday nights at the library for months trying to get her to notice me, but she’d hardly looked in my direction. 

I had to take things one step at a time. I got a kiss. Things were progressing. 

“Where are we headed?” she asks, fixing the helmet over her head.

I’d planned the date very carefully. Our first date needed to be unique, something she’d remember. “You know Castle Montague in Sapphire Valley?” 

It isn’t so much a castle as an old mansion with a reputation for being haunted. Built over two hundred years ago by some of the first residents of North Carolina, all the materials had come from Europe. It was a spooky place with gothic spires and gargoyles on the roof. According to the legends, several people had died at Castle Montague and were perhaps buried in the walls.

“Sure. Everyone knows Castle Montague.” 

I climb on the bike and turn to look at Riley. “They’re having an estate sale today.”

“Oh! Wow!” 

Her tone of excitement confirms I’ve made the right choice. Riley’s just as excited about poking through the stuff of eccentric millionaires and wandering the deserted halls of a supposedly haunted mansion as I am.

The advertisement listed some of the items for sale, and I knew one, in particular, that was sure to delight Riley. “I figured we could creep around there for a bit, then stop for lunch on the way back. We’ll be home in plenty of time for your babysitting job.”

Riley climbs onto the bike behind me. Her heat is right there. So close. I need her closer. I reach back for her hand and secure it around my waist. “You’re gonna want to hold on.”

Her cheeks blaze the cutest pink, and I want to kiss her again. Patience. I don’t want to scare her off. I’ve waited too long to get this close. Plus, our helmets prevent any intimacy. 

We pull away from the curb, and I increase the speed. Riley snuggles close as we take a corner, and I want time to stand still. Her arms feel so good around me, and I can’t get enough of her pressing close. I reach down and tug her hand more solidly around my waist as I open up the speed on a straight-away. Her thighs clutch mine, and I’m in heaven. 

Soon, we’re tearing down the parkway, taking the winding curves and the hills with efficiency and speed. Riding my bike through the mountains never fails to thrill me. One reason I settled in Mossy Oak was because I couldn’t resist the call of the mountains. The main reason was the woman pressing her front to my back. 

Riley Jakobowski.

I’ve known Riley since before we learned to read. She’d been the cutest, sweetest girl. And now she’s a beautiful woman who makes a difference in people’s lives. Riley inspires kids to dream and adults to expand their horizons. She’s wholesome, smart, and sexy as hell, all wrapped up in one petite package.

The mountains rise high on our right, so close we can reach out and touch the slick, gray rocks. To the left, the road drops off to a dramatic cliff with views of the bare treetops. Last month, the branches had been covered in snow, but spring is only weeks away and soon, the dark branches will be draped in green. 

Sunny skies and mountain highs. Welcome to North Carolina. After spending my college years in Chicago, I appreciate the mild weather of my hometown more than ever. 

 

There’s no place I’d rather be. Especially when the woman I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember is pressed against me.

The ride to Castle Montague isn’t nearly long enough. I turn off the main road and navigate the long driveway, which is lined with cars. I find a spot to park right in front of the gothic mansion and cut the engine. The house looms over us in disapproval as we climb off the bike and remove our helmets. 

Riley flashes me a grin, her eyes bright behind the lenses of her glasses. I don’t know if it’s leftover from speeding along the parkway or seeing Castle Montague up close, but her excitement is in the air. 

A thrill runs through me. Riley, blushing with pleasure, is so sexy I can’t hold back. I wrap my arm around her waist and tug her against my chest. She’s so tiny, that I have to stoop to steal a kiss. 

Her lips are warm and inviting. The woman makes my blood hum. It’s a wonder I got through so many Friday nights at the library in her presence. 

We aren’t alone, and I force myself to pull back, ending the kiss before it gets out of hand. 

“That was incredible!” Behind her dark glasses, her brown eyes are alight with excitement. “I’ve never seen the Parkway like that before.”

“The kiss wasn’t bad either.”

Riley fixes her glasses and adjusts her clothes. She fidgets when she’s nervous, and it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. 

“Hey guys! I guess we had the same idea!”

I tear my gaze from Riley and see Sloane Smith, the event coordinator at Sky Valley Vineyards, standing in front of us. There’s a knowing smile stamped on Sloane’s face. I’m sure she saw our kiss. 

“I guess you two know each other?” Sloane says. 

Yeah, she definitely saw the kiss. “We went to school together,” I say.

Sloane nods and smiles at Riley. “I’ll see you next week,” she says, then looks at me. “And I’ll see you on the fifteenth. It’s too late to back out now.”

Sloane waves goodbye and heads to her car pushing a wheelbarrow full of her purchases down the long driveway.

 

“You need a hand?” I call after her, but she waves me off.

“I’ve got someone helping. He’ll be right along.”

When Sloane is gone, Riley turns to me. “What can’t you back out of?”

I roll my eyes. “I got talked into doing The Men of Mossy Oak calendar.” 

Riley’s eyebrows raise, and she surpasses a smile. “In your underwear?”

“Yeah.” I run a hand through my hair, fixing my helmet head. “It’s for a good cause.”

She smirks, a blush riding high on her cheeks. “I’m sure.”

Eager to change the subject, I take Riley’s hand and tuck it under my elbow, then lead the way to the mansion’s grand entrance. We pass through the doors, and I immediately feel like I’m in a different century. There’s a long, dark hall leading to the kitchen where the cold stone and tall ceilings give it a scary vibe, but the merchandise laid out for sale is as ordinary as it comes. 

There are vintage canister sets, cast iron cookware, and sterling silver. Riley is drawn to a needlepoint wooden tray.

“This reminds me of my granny,” she says. “I think she had one exactly like it.” 

“And my granny had one of these.” I pick up a soap dispenser shaped like a frog.

Riley laughs, and my entire world tilts. Memories tickle at the base of my spine. That laugh drifting down the halls of high school had always been the highlight of my day.

We wander through the gigantic house, along halls lined with portraits of somebody’s ancestors for sale. Down an endless hall, we finally get to the room I’ve been waiting for—the library.

Riley’s jaw goes slack as we enter the room, and she spins around like she’s in a fairy tale. I can’t help but smile as I watch her bask in the glow of antique books. 

I stride over to the shelves stuffed with collector’s items and search until I find what I’m looking for. Original Nancy Drew books in hardback, signed by the author.

“Check it out.” I show her one of the books, and she gasps. 

“No way.” 

She reaches for the book, and our fingers brush. A spark of electricity races down my spine. Her grin falters, and her gaze connects with mine. “How’d you know I loved Nancy Drew?” 

I hand her the book, and I’m suddenly embarrassed. I’ve been trying to get Riley’s attention for months, but now that I have it, I feel tongue-tied. I swallow roughly and rock back on my heels. 

“I just figured,” I say.

She averts her eyes. “Everyone loves Nancy Drew?”

I sense this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. We are alone in the bright room, surrounded by Riley’s favorite things. I take her free hand, the one not holding the book, and draw her close. “I have a confession to make.”

Her brows draw together. “What?”

I pull in a sharp breath and go for it. “There’s a reason I came back to Mossy Oak.” My hand tightens around her slim waist. “You.”

Her eyes go wide. “Josh, don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

She shakes her head, tears filling her eyes. “Don’t be cruel.” She slams the book against my chest, angrily rushing by me. 

 

I blink in confusion, too stunned to move as the woman I love walks away.

See how the readers voted

How tall is Riley

5'2" - 46%

5'5" - 23%

5'8" - 26%

5'11" - 5%

pov

Josh: 58%

Riley: 42%

Secret Josh Reveals

Secret Crush on Riley: 50%

The reason he became a Firefighter: 28%

He's a Father: 12%

He's a Virgin: 10%

Should Josh Pose in the Mossy Oak calendar?

Yes: 76:

No: 24%

Vote for chapter 4