Read Off Limits Online

Authors: Kelly Jamieson

Off Limits

Off Limits
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Loveswept eBook Original

Copyright © 2015 by Kelly Jamieson

Excerpt from Icing by Kelly Jamieson copyright © 2015 by Kelly Jamieson

All rights reserved.

Published
in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

L
OVESWEPT
is a registered trademark and the
L
OVESWEPT
colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
Icing
by Kelly Jamieson. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the
forthcoming edition.

eBook ISBN 9781101968284

Cover design: Diane Luger

Cover photograph: Gerber86/Getty

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Chapter 1
Jenna

“My family is like fudge.”

“What?” Jon gave me a sidelong frown, driving down I-91. “How so?”

“They’re mostly sweet, but with lots of nuts.” I bit my lip on a smile.

Jon laughed. “Tell me again who’s coming?”

“How can you be such a brilliant accountant and not remember people’s names?”

“I have other talents.” Jon’s eyes crinkled up at the corners as he looked straight ahead
out the windshield.

It amused me that my new boyfriend could never remember names, because he’s super smart and talented, an associate director in Financial Planning and Analysis at HMNC, where we both worked. But names escape him. As do birthdays and anniversaries. Not that he’d forgotten my birthday, which wasn’t until June, and we hadn’t had an anniversary yet, but he’d forgotten his sister’s
birthday and his parents’ anniversary. Not the worst flaw in a man who is kind and smart and successful. Right?

After the two-ish-hour drive from Manhattan, we were almost at our destination—my parents’ home in Greenfield, Connecticut, just outside Hartford. For the first time ever, I was bringing a boyfriend home for the holidays.

This was somewhat nerve-wracking, although Jon didn’t seem too
stressed about it. He was laid back about pretty much everything, which was nice. My dad and two older brothers were bossy, overprotective alpha males, so having a boyfriend who basically let me do whatever I wanted and didn’t get worked up about things was kind of nice.

The bossy, overprotective part might be why I was a wee bit nervous about bringing Jon home to meet my family.

I’d actually
been surprised when Jon had suggested he come home with me for Christmas. We’d been seeing each other a few months and I liked him a lot. Maybe I was even falling a little in love with him. I wasn’t sure. There were things I really liked about him—we worked for the same company, so he understood my job, he was smart and kind, honest and thoughtful. If at times he thought a little too much before
doing anything, that was better than making crazy, impulsive decisions or acting rashly. He definitely wasn’t the life of the party, but who wanted that? Quiet and steady were also good qualities. So bringing him home for Christmas seemed like a big step to me, but hey, he wanted to be with me over Christmas and that was nice.

“Okay, who’ll be there…my parents, Brenda and Gary. My oldest brother,
Daniel, and his wife, Emily, and their new baby, Christopher, who is the reason for everyone coming home for Christmas. My other brother, Connor, and my sort-of brother, Andrew.”

“Andrew’s the guy your parents took in when he was…how old?”

“He was sixteen.”

I stared out the window, a faint ache in my chest as I thought about Andrew. I’d only told Jon that Andrew had lost his own family and
had come to live with us. I hadn’t told him anything about that weekend in college. I hadn’t told
anyone
about that weekend in college.

I closed my eyes briefly, memories flooding back. I had to push those away, though. I’d been avoiding Andrew for years and it was time to get past that old shit and move on with my life. I had a new boyfriend who was a very nice man and I was excited to be seeing
my family.

“That was nice of your parents to do that.”

I turned and blinked at Jon. “Um, yeah. Andrew and Connor were best friends and played on the same hockey team. My dad was his hockey coach. Andrew was practically another son to my dad even before he came to live with us.”

“Neither he nor Connor is married?”

“No.” I wrinkled my nose. “Connor’s not seeing anyone right now. Andrew has a
girlfriend but I don’t know if he’s bringing her with him.”

I’d never met this girlfriend, but I’d seen pictures of her—blond and gorgeous. Being a handsome hockey player in the NHL made Andrew’s dating life very public. And he’d had a lot of dates. Not that I cyber-stalked him or anything. But since I hadn’t seen him for almost two years and we didn’t keep in touch other than the odd Facebook
like or comment, that was the only way I had of knowing what was going on with him. Other than occasional updates from my mom—although by the time she’d told me that he’d been traded to Chicago I’d already known that. Same when he’d won the James Norris Memorial Trophy after his last team had won the Stanley Cup.

“Huh.”

“Our exit is coming up next.”

“Okay, good.”

It wasn’t much longer before
we were pulling up in front of my parents’ home, the house I’d grown up in, a big gray colonial with white window frames, black shutters, and a bright red door. It was the perfect house for Martha Stewart decorating, but alas, my mother is not Martha Stewart. A wreath we’d had since I was about two hung on the front door, looking tattered and worn, and a garland haphazardly draped the stair railings.
A thick blanket of snow lay over the lawn, but the front sidewalk and steps and the long driveway to the garage at the back of the house had been neatly shoveled.

A shiver of excited happiness ran through me at being home, about to see my family—and it was Christmas! I loved Christmas! Also, we didn’t see one another enough. Greenfield wasn’t far from New York City but my life was busy so I didn’t
get home very often, and my parents weren’t much into the big city. My brother Connor still lived in Greenfield, but Daniel and Emily now resided in Boston, and they were bringing three-month-old baby Christopher home to Greenfield for the first time.

My brothers had tormented me my entire life, but I knew they always had my back despite the practical jokes and frequent insults, and I loved them
too. And my parents…well, they were unique. They’d been married nearly thirty-five years, so they must be doing something right, and they’d been great parents, though definitely not Ward and June Cleaver.

Jon reached into the trunk of his Mercedes and pulled out our bags. His was carry-on size and he shook his head over my huge suitcase. “Still don’t know what you’ve got in there.”

“It’s all
Christmas presents,” I lied. Well, there were a few presents, but I’d already shipped most of my gifts. The truth was, I had no idea how to pack light for anything, and even though we were going to be in Greenfield for only five days, I’d managed to fit in most of my winter wardrobe. We’d be going out and doing things, seeing extended family and my old friend from high school Leesha, and going to
church, and Mom was having an open house the day after Christmas, so I needed a selection of outfits. Plus, it didn’t matter if you were staying over one night or ten, you still needed the whole bag of makeup.

The front door opened and Mom appeared out on the veranda. I gave a little squeal and ran to her, jumping up the wide steps to meet her in a big hug.

“Jenna!” She hugged me back, and we
stood for a minute like that, my heart brimming. “So good to see you, honey.”

“You too, Mom.” I gave her one last squeeze and moved away. “Mom, this is Jon. Jon, my mom, Brenda.”

Jon moved up the stairs and shook Mom’s hand with an easy smile. “Pleased to meet you, Mrs. MacFadden.”

“Call me Brenda. I’m happy to meet you too, Jon. Welcome to our home.”

Mom’s smile was warm but I could feel
her assessing Jon, taking a measure of her daughter’s new boyfriend.

I’d never had a lot of boyfriends. Dad had been strict about his only daughter dating, and had made sure that Daniel and Connor kept an eye on me anytime I was around boys. I’d dated a few guys in high school. Not so much in college. When I moved to New York after graduation, I hadn’t known many people, so my dating life had
been nonexistent. About six months ago—okay, I know exactly when it was, but who’s keeping track—I decided I really needed to make an effort to meet someone, and I’d signed up for an online dating service. Other girls at work were doing it, going out on a couple of dates a week, so why not? I had nothing to lose other than a few hours of my free time if a date turned out to be a total bust.

I’d met a lot of great guys. Really great guys. In fact, I’d become friends with most of them. Which tells you exactly how much spark there’d been with them, sadly. So I had a big circle of male friends in various walks of life…but no boyfriend.

Until I’d met Jon.

I knew Mom was taking in his height, just over six feet, his high forehead and intelligent blue eyes, his nice manners and impeccable
clothes. I also knew she was wondering how Jon was going to fit in with my dad, a retired police officer; my brother Connor, now a firefighter; and my other brother Daniel, a police detective in Boston. Not to mention Andrew, a pro hockey player.

We were about to find out.

We stepped into the house and a burst of laughter from the kitchen greeted us, along with the faint scent of pine. “Play
That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry blasted from speakers somewhere. I rolled my eyes, but it secretly amused me. My parents’ taste in music was firmly stuck in the seventies. I needed to plug my iPod into those speakers when nobody was looking and get my Christmas playlist going to get us in the holiday spirit.

We paused in the foyer to hang our jackets on the old oak coatrack, already laden with
outerwear, then passed by the living room with the big tree in the corner sitting bare and undecorated, following the loud voices and laughter to the kitchen. An addition on the back of the house created a great room with big windows overlooking the snowy backyard, where Daniel and Connor had beat me up on many occasions. I exaggerate. But there were times they’d chased me with spiders, and the
time they’d tied me to the swing set and left me swinging helplessly. Andrew had rescued me that day.

“They’re here!” Mom announced and everyone turned.

It took me two seconds to know that Andrew wasn’t there yet.

I linked my arm with Jon’s to draw him into the room. “Everyone, this is Jon. Jon, this is my family.”

Dad moved toward me and kissed the top of my head. “Hey, Bugsy. Good to see
you.”

I gave him a punch on the shoulder, which I knew he preferred to a hug and a kiss, and did an eye roll at the nickname. “You too, Dad.”

My brothers and I likewise exchanged head rubs and shoulder pats. They all shook Jon’s hand with narrow-eyed looks and several firm arm pumps. Then my sister-in-law, Emily, approached with the baby.

“Thankfully another woman,” she murmured, giving me
a one-armed hug.

I grinned and hugged her back. “We’ll stick together. And here’s my new nephew!” I peered down at the wrapped, sleeping bundle. “You couldn’t have given me a niece? Seriously, Em, another girl in the family would have been appreciated.”

She laughed. “I think you’ll have to blame your brother for that.”

“Can I hold him?” I stared at the tiny face, watching in fascination as
it scrunched up, then relaxed.

“Sure.” She passed over the bundle and I settled Christopher into my arms. Heat rushed to my chest at holding this little being and I couldn’t stop looking at him. I touched the blanket with my forefinger and eased it back from his face, taking in perfect ears, the sweetest nose, and thick, dark hair.

“Aren’t you handsome. Such a perfect, handsome boy. He’s got
the MacFadden hair.” I brushed my fingers over his silky head. “And nose. As in, no nose.” Both my brothers and I had very small noses, taking after our mom, which I figured was a lot better than getting our dad’s big honker. On him, six-three and two hundred pounds, it looked fine. It probably would’ve looked good on Daniel and Connor, who were similar in size. But on me, a pipsqueak compared to
them, as they’d told me numerous times, it would’ve been a certain trip to a plastic surgeon. Or who knows, maybe I would have loved it.

My heart swelled as Christopher’s tiny lips pursed. I blinked back a little sting in the corners of my eyes and looked up at Daniel. “He’s so beautiful. I can’t believe you made this, you big ugly doodoohead.”

Daniel burst out laughing and Christopher flinched.
I rocked him a little.

“Looks good on you.”

My eyes flew open at that voice and my hurt lurched to a full stop. I swallowed hard and turned to see Andrew standing in the kitchen doorway, obviously having come in behind us.

He smiled and nodded at the baby in my arms, his eyes warm, the corners crinkled so attractively, the deep dimples in his cheeks evident. Our eyes met.

For the space of
several seconds, the world dropped away as I held his gaze and I couldn’t look away. Could not. Then his words sank in.

I looked back at the baby, horrified. “God no!” I handed Christopher to his mother. “He’s cute, but I don’t want one of those.”

Everyone laughed and Emily snuggled her baby into her arms again.

I sucked in a breath and rubbed my palms over my thighs. “I didn’t know you were
here yet, Andrew.”

“Flew in late last night right after the game.”

“Ah.” I stared at him. “Um. Right.” I should, um, hug him. Or punch him. I moved toward him, not sure which of those it was going to be. He held out his arms and I stepped close enough for us to do a tiny air hug. Then I remembered Jon. “Oh, let me introduce you.” I touched Jon’s arm and he extended a hand, smiling. “This is
my boyfriend, Jon Booth. John, Andrew Ross.”

A peculiar expression crossed Andrew’s face, fleeting, barely there, his head jerking a little, eyes tightening. But he smiled and shook Jon’s hand. None of the overprotective sizing up that my dad and brothers had done appeared on his face, just that wide, friendly smile. “Good to meet you, Jon.”

“Likewise.”

“Everyone’s here!” Mom clapped her hands
and closed her eyes briefly. “I’m so happy.”

“I’m hungry,” Daniel said.

Christopher chose that moment to start wailing.

“Like father, like son.” Emily bounced her son gently. “Come on, little guy, let’s go see how that diaper is.”

“We can have lunch anytime.” Mom moved to the fridge. “I’ll just put out some cold cuts and bread to make sandwiches. Jenna, come help me.”

“Why me? Why can’t Connor
help?” Wow, I was reverting back to childhood after being back in the family home less than half an hour.

“ ’Cause you’re a girl.” Connor joined me in my regression. “Cooking is girl’s work.”

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