North to You by Tif Marcelo is high on our TBR! This second-chance romance looks so swoony and full of heart. You need to check this one out STAT.
Camille Marino has got a full plate. As the sole guardian of her eighteen-year-old sister and the head chef and owner of a food truck, she’s used to life being a juggling act. With food to cook, social media accounts to manage, and a little sister to look after, she doesn’t have time for much else.
That is, until Drew Bautista walks back into her life.
Drew is Camille’s former high school crush and he returns to San Francisco to repair his relationship with his father before he ships out for deployment. By helping his father renovate his failing Filipino restaurant, he hopes to win back his respect. But when sparks fly between Drew and Camille—his father’s major competition and sworn enemy—Drew is conflicted. Should he join his father in the war against her food truck? Or surrender to the woman who’s given him a second chance at love?
If this were any other woman, in any other place, for any other kind of hookup, I wouldn’t be thinking this much. I’d have simply gone with her flow, allowed our actions to unfold. The relationship consequence would be a nonissue. There wouldn’t be pressure to do right.
But this is Camille. And with her lips on mine, I can’t stop hoping I’m not messing this up.
So much of her is still the same. She has the same goodness, determination, and strength. A glance from her strips me of my defenses, as if she can still see through all of my shenanigans. But there’s a lot I don’t know about this woman, like how she takes her coffee. If she ended up learning how to skateboard, or if she got to the top of the Eiffel Tower by graduation. And the big things. Like, did she go to college? What does she do for a living specifically? Where does she live?
Does someone else have access to these lips, to this kind of intimacy with her?
I can’t even. That singular thought tenses every muscle in my body. My hold on her waist tightens, making sure my brain isn’t imagining all of this.
I want to know more. I need to know more. Our kiss becomes combustible. Like fire, it spreads through me, all consuming. Our tongues crash and tangle. They spar like hunter and prey, neither backing down. My fingers climb up her neck and embed in her silky hair. With a sigh, she hooks hers around the loop of my jeans and presses our abdomens closer.
Somewhere, beyond my reach, a muffled buzz pulls me from the dark. It’s a buzz peppered with the sound of bells, incessant and nagging, and it pulls me into the thin fog of consciousness.
My phone alarm. Which means it’s morning. The day’s thoughts rush to me: my hair in a bun, apron tied securely at my back, feet in patent leather kitchen clogs. The hopeful sound of the truck’s engine turning over.
I palm the side table, where I usually toss my phone before bed, but instead of the slick surface of pressed wood, my fingers touch something warm. Soft. I notice everything up against me is this same temperature, the same texture of skin. My nose picks up scents that are unfamiliar—of cologne and deodorant, laundry detergent and Chinese takeout.
My eyes jolt open, and when my surroundings go from haze to real life, a grin takes over my face.
Last night wasn’t a dream.
My nose is tucked into the crook of a Drew’s neck, my entire torso encased in tan arms. Still in underwear, bare legs intertwined, I’ve awakened in the legendary spot talked
about in magazines and chick-lit novels. We’re both under the covers of his bed, my body flush against his. The ceiling fan above us whirrs, emanating a barely noticeable breeze, while the television, on mute, plays an infomercial for a countertop rotisserie. His studio apartment is bathed with light, its warmth calming my racing heart. And beyond the curtainless floor-to-ceiling windows are the sounds of a city waking. Everywhere around me is serene, so normal.
And yet, it’s not normal. This never happens to me. This has never happened to me.
Tif believes in and writes about heart-eyes romance, the strength of families, and the endurance of friendship. A veteran Army Nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Administration, she is a craft enthusiast, food-lover and the occasional half-marathon runner. As a military spouse, she has moved nine times, and this adventure shows in some of her free-spirited characters. Tif currently lives in the DC area with her own real life military hero and four children.