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Excerpt from A Reason to Stay: A Plus Size Heroine Novella by June Stevens

“Could you hand me a tissue?” she asked, motioning toward the box on the table near him.

Wordlessly, Jake retrieved a tissue from its container. But instead of putting it in her outstretched hand, he brought the tissue up to her tear stained cheeks. Softly, he began wiping the tears from her face.

His voice was soft when he asked, “Why do you cry at movies like that? I mean, the ones with happy endings. I understand crying when it’s sad, but when they end up together, what’s there to cry about?”

“Oh, I don’t know.” Crying had left her voice a bit rough, and his question took her a bit off guard. Her voice was low and quiet as she answered, “I guess it could just be the emotion. Happy endings make me feel happy, and you know how I am. I’ll take any opportunity to cry.”

He laughed at her answer, but before he could say anything else, Ellie went on.

“Or, I guess it could be jealousy, or whimsy, or some such nonsense. Maybe it’s just self-pity and I’m crying for myself. Everyone else gets their own happy ending with someone to share the rest of their life with, but I’m still alone.”

Ellie let out a tiny gasp. She couldn’t believe what she’d just said. She and Jake had always shared everything, but this was a bit more honest than she’d meant to get with him. Clasping her hands together on her lap, she stared down at them and tried to think of what to say next. She tried to think of a joke to make light of her too revealing statement.

His thumb replaced the tissue on her cheek. Gently, he rubbed it over the tear blotched skin, tracing a path over her high cheekbones. His touch scorched her skin. It seemed to her that every ounce of his body heat was flowing through that one thumb and into her.

“You’re not alone. You have me.”

His tone was so gruff and low she almost thought she imagined that he’d said it. Her eyes flew to his, seeking some clue as to what he’d meant, what that note in his voice was that she couldn’t identify. What she saw nearly took her breath away. His charcoal eyes were darkened to jet-black with some emotion she was afraid to name. She was drawn into them and felt her chest tighten. She couldn’t breathe. His gaze bore into her, searching her face for something, she didn’t know what. She felt as though she would melt into a pool of liquid heat under his gaze. Was that really desire she saw in his eyes?

Jake’s hand slid from her face to the nape of her neck, pulling her to him. At the same time he lowered his own face toward her. It happened so fast she hardly had time to register what was happening, yet it seemed as if it were all going in slow motion.

In the time it took for her to draw in a breath, her whole world was shattered. Jake’s lips touched hers, searing her skin, melting her soul. The touch was light, tentative at first. Not unlike the friendly kisses they had shared so many times before. But in an instant, the pressure deepened. His lips were full against hers and completely still for a full second.

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