Just A Little Crush
Haven Lang is newly divorced, newly self-employed, newly dating again, and everything is great—except the dating. To say it’s been a disappointment is an understatement. After only a few weeks of looking, she’s ready to give up, and not even the prospect of having nothing to do on New Year’s Eve can convince her to give those dating apps another try.
Until a blast from the past turns her holiday around.
Jake Peltier was the pesky little brother of one of her high school friends, but he’s all grown up now. Tall and built, sexy and sweet, one look at Jake has Haven reevaluating her decision to give up on dating. Even the age difference doesn’t bother her—what’s ten years when the chemistry is this sizzling? A night—or two—with Jake seems like the perfect way to launch her post-divorce sex life.
But Jake’s not looking for a weekend fling. The boyish crush he had on her all those years ago has developed a decidedly grown-up edge, and if he has his way, he’ll be around long after the clock strikes midnight.
Just A Little Crush is a novella-length romance (approximately 35,000 words) with high heat, plenty of laughs, no cheating, and a guaranteed HEA.
Read Excerpt | Behind the Book | Content Warning
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The idea for this book was actually sparked by a video I saw on Twitter back in 2019 (I think – time is just a blur these days, so I’m not sure). It was cross posted from Reddit, and annoyingly, I can’t find it now. But the contents – a security guard crossing a parking garage to grab a kid who was jumping on the hood of a car to try to grab the light above it – made a very strong impression. And that moment, with that smoking hot security guard, wound up as Haven and Jake’s meet cute. Check it out in the excerpt below!
“Oh my gosh, what a game. My heart is still racing.”
Haven Lang laughed. Caroline’s normally pale complexion, smooth and soft thanks to weekly spa treatments, was red and splotchy. Her artfully highlighted blonde hair was tangled from spending most of the last two hours yanking at it, and she had a streak of cheese sauce on her cashmere slacks from the nachos she’d spilled in the third quarter. Which frankly, served her right for wearing cashmere to a high school football game.
Haven couldn’t remember the last time her always put together sister-in-law had looked this un-together, and was tempted to take a picture to memorialize the moment. “You say that every time Colin has a game.”
“I know, but this was the state championship!” Caroline’s blue eyes were bright with pride, and a few residual happy tears. “And my baby boy did so good. Three touchdowns, Haven. Three!”
“I’ll give you fifty bucks if you call him baby boy when he comes out of the locker room.”
“He’d kill me.”
Haven’s grin was quick and wicked. “I know.”
Caroline shook her head, the florescent lights in the tunnel outside the locker room making her highlights glow. “I couldn’t.”
Caroline sighed. “Ward is going to be sick that he missed this.”
“I know.” Haven grimaced. Her big brother had been scheduled to fly home from a business trip that morning, but a Chicago blizzard had interfered with his plans to be home by kickoff. “Did you talk to him?”
“Not yet. I texted him, so he knows we won, but it was too loud out there to talk on the phone. I’ll call him on the way home.”
“Did you say ‘I told you so’?”
Caroline snorted. “What do you think?”
“I think he’s got some groveling to do.”
“And not just to me.” Caroline shifted to allow a stream of people to walk past her. The hallway leading to the Houston Texan’s locker room was wide, but the number of people waiting for players to emerge was starting to add up. “Colin is going to be crushed that his dad wasn’t here.”
“Now might be the perfect time to ask for that car he’s been wanting,” Haven suggested.
Caroline shot her a pleading glance. “Please don’t tell him that.”
Haven stepped closer to the wall as more people crowded in around them. “You think he hasn’t already thought of it?”
Caroline huffed out a breath. “Hell.”
“He’s had his license for a year,” Haven reminded her with a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “He hasn’t even gotten a parking ticket.”
“Because he knows it would kill any chances of getting his own car.”
“You can always take it away if he screws up.”
“Maybe he won’t ask.”
“Maybe,” Haven allowed, but she doubted it. Colin was a smart kid, and he knew which buttons to push. If he didn’t manage to wrangle a car over three touchdowns in the state championship game—from the dad who’d missed them all—she’d eat her legal pad.
She pressed herself closer to the wall as more people pushed into the hallway. “Getting a little crowded,” she commented, and winced when someone stepped on her foot.
“Yeah.” Caroline frowned. “The kids should’ve been out by now, but they’re probably celebrating.”
“They got to play in a real NFL stadium and now they’re in a real NFL locker room,” Haven reminded her. “They’re probably taking selfies everywhere, including the showers.”
Caroline grimaced. “Remind me to check Colin’s cell, and to have a refresher talk with him about sexting and child porn laws.”
“Good call.” Haven bit back a curse as someone’s elbow caught her in the ribs. “What are y’all doing after this?”
“The coaches set up a party back at the school, a lock-in thing.” Caroline shifted her coat to her other arm. “They figured if they won, it’d be best to keep the celebrating confined to a safe space. And if they lost...”
“Best to keep that confined as well.” Haven nodded. “Smart. You’re taking Colin?”
Caroline shook her head. “I’m sure he’ll want to ride with the team. I just want to see him before he goes over there.”
“Where are the girls?”
“Janie is spending the night at a friend’s,” Caroline said of her fifteen-year-old daughter. “And Farrah is driving back to Austin. She’s working tomorrow morning.”
“And probably didn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve with her parents,” Haven pointed out.
Caroline’s sigh was resigned. “That, too.”
“Then it’s just you tonight?” Haven pursed her lips at Caroline’s nod. “Want some company?”
“On a Friday night?” Caroline’s eyes widened in surprise. “The day before New Year’s Eve? I thought you’d have plans.”
Haven shrugged. “No reason, I just don’t.”
“Come on.” Caroline stepped closer, and the crowd immediately flowed into the vacated space. “You’ve been out every Friday and Saturday night for weeks now. What happened to your personal sexual revolution?”
Haven sighed. “Nothing.”
“No, really. Nothing. That’s the problem. Six weeks of dating app matches and not one single orgasm to show for it.”
Caroline’s jaw dropped. “None?”
“Not unless the ones I give myself count. Clearly, my window for a personal sexual revolution has closed. I think I’m too old.”
“That’s ridiculous. You’re only thirty-nine, for God’s sake.”
“Thirty-nine is old in pickup years,” Haven told her.
“Listen, men will fuck anything,” Caroline began.
“Oh, well, thanks. That makes me feel so much better.”
Caroline waved a hand. “That came out wrong. I just meant you’re beautiful and smart, and I highly doubt your age is what’s putting people off. How’s your flirting game?”
“Pretty good, I think. Rusty,” she admitted. “But solid.”
“How are you dressing on these dates?”
“Lots of cleavage, lots of leg.”
“And you’re not getting any nibbles?”
“No, I am,” Haven said. “They’re just not the nibbles I want.”
“What’s wrong with them?”
Haven shifted on her feet. “Everyone either wants to just hook up, without getting to know me at all, or a serious relationship. There’s no middle ground.”
“And the middle ground is what you want?”
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly what I want,” she decided. “I want to meet someone, get to know them, like them, then fuck them cross-eyed without worrying about where it’s going. Which was a lot easier when I was twenty-two.”
Caroline snorted. “Honey, everything was easier at twenty-two.”
“No kidding.” Haven sighed. “Anyway, I think I’m taking a break from all that for a while.”
“Does that mean our ceiling surprise was wasted?”
“Yes,” Haven said firmly. “Feel free to come over and take that down.”
“You sure?” Caroline’s lips curved in a smirk. “Might come in handy one day.”
“Was that your idea or Ward’s?” Haven demanded.
Caroline laughed. “It was mine, but Ward did it in our bedroom, so I guess it was his idea first.”
Haven grimaced. “On second thought, I don’t want to know.”
“Hey, after twenty-two years together, you have to get creative to keep the spark going.” Caroline’s smile turned satisfied. “And there’s just something about looking up and seeing your man’s ass in a mirror, pumping away. Your brother still has a first-class ass.”
Haven held up a hand. “I am begging you to stop talking.”
“I’m just saying, leave the mirrors up for a while. You never know.”
“Since I have no idea how to take them down, I’m kind of stuck, aren’t I? I may have to start sleeping in the guest room.”
“Why? They can’t fall on you. I told you, they’re anchored in. Glue and screws.”
“I’m not worried about that.” Haven rolled her eyes at Caroline’s raised eyebrow. “Okay, I’m a little worried about that. But I’m more worried about catching another accidental glimpse of myself masturbating.”
She glared when Caroline burst out laughing. “I did not need to know that’s what my boobs look like when I’m lying on my back.”
“Deflated, did they?” Caroline asked, still giggling. “Maybe slid into your armpits a little?”
Haven sighed. “It was not a confidence inspiring visual.”
“That’s what real boobs do, Haven.”
“I know that,” Haven muttered. “I just didn’t need to see it.”
“At least you haven’t nursed three kids,” Caroline went on. “My tits practically slide around to my shoulder blades when I lay down.”
“Thank God for small favors.”
“How’d we start talking about this, anyway?”
“I asked if you want some company tonight, since Ward’s stuck in Chicago and the kids are all out of the house,” Haven reminded her. “Then you made it weird.”
“Right. Yes, I’d love some company. We can drink wine and watch sappy movies without Ward whining about it.”
“Perfect. Or it will be, if your kid ever gets out here.”
As if on cue, a sudden cheer went up as the locker room doors opened. Caroline rose to her toes to see over the crowd. “Oh, here they come.”
Haven backed up, sliding along the wall as people rushed forward. “Go find Colin. Tell him Aunt Haven said good job, and to be sure to ask for that car.”
“Not on your life,” Caroline said with a laugh. “You want to wait for me, or meet me at the house?”
“I’ll wait back here.” Haven raised her voice as Caroline was swept along in the wave. “Find me when you’re done.”
She backed up along the corridor, moving against the flow of bodies until she was nearly at the exit. With some space to breathe, she propped herself against the wall and dug out her cell phone. She fired off a quick text to Colin—Good job, bud. Bet you can milk this for a car—then amused herself by scrolling through Twitter.
She ignored her dating apps.
She’d had high hopes for those apps, and was still smarting from the disappointment. Six weeks of looking, and no quality dick to show for it.
She could really use some quality dick.
She didn’t even like to think about how long it had been since she’d had sex. The last two years of her marriage had been spotty in that department, though when they had managed to get together, Richard had been pretty good at delivering at least one orgasm. But she chalked that up to his familiarity with the terrain; it certainly hadn’t been because he’d wanted to be there. Which was fine, since by then she hadn’t wanted to be there, either.
She shook her head, unwilling to indulge in any regretful musings about her marriage. Mostly because she didn’t regret it, either the marriage or the divorce, and only started second guessing herself when she thought about how hard it was to start dating again at thirty-nine.
Not that she was particularly interested in dating, at least not with an eye toward finding a relationship. After a dozen years with Richard, she was enjoying being on her own again, and was in no great rush to couple up. She liked her new life, and the only thing she missed about her old one was the regular sex.
She really, really missed regular sex.
Not orgasms. She was getting plenty of those, thanks to the healthy supply of sex toys that lived in her bedside table. No, orgasms weren’t the problem. She missed men. The warmth and weight, the taste and feel. The stretch of her inner thighs around someone’s waist, the delicious ache between them the next day.
It was hard to get all of that with a vibrator. Even a really good vibrator.
She glanced up from her phone. The crowd had thinned out considerably while she’d been contemplating her lackluster sex life, and Caroline was coming back. Haven tucked her phone back into her pocket and pushed off the wall.
“You see Colin?”
“Yeah.” Caroline dashed a stray tear from her still blotchy cheek. “I cried and hugged him and embarrassed him in front of his friends, so my work here is done.”
“Aw.” Haven slung a companionable arm over her shoulders as they pushed through the doors. “He’ll appreciate it one day.”
“Not today, though,” Caroline said with a watery laugh. “It’s probably good he’s not coming home tonight. I don’t think I’d be able to stop myself from fawning all over him.”
“We’ll do a tear jerker marathon and drink lots of wine. It’ll give you a chance to get all those proud-mama tears out before you pick him up tomorrow.”
Caroline wrapped her arm around Haven’s waist and gave it a squeeze. “You’re too good to me.”
They made their way out of the stadium and into the parking structure, empty now but for a handful of cars, their footsteps echoing loudly. Haven glanced around. “Where did you park?”
Caroline pointed to her luxury SUV, sitting in a cluster of other cars in the middle of the row. “Over by the elevators.”
Haven nodded. “I’m across from you.”
“So I see.” Caroline sighed. “When are you going to get a new car?”
“I don’t need a new car.” Haven eyed the ten-year-old Lexus. “It runs great.”
“It’s a trash heap,” Caroline said bluntly. “Look at the hood!”
“What about it?”
“The paint is worn off. It looks terrible, Haven.”
“It’s not worn off, it’s oxidized.”
“It looks awful,” Caroline insisted.
Haven shrugged. “So what? The car’s paid for, it’s comfortable, and the oxidized paint doesn’t bother me. Plus, I just put in a new stereo system. Why would I get rid of it?”
Caroline drew to a stop in front of her SUV, six months old and fully loaded, no oxidized paint to be found. “You know Ward thinks you’re having a midlife crisis, right?”
“Not this again,” Haven muttered.
“I know you’re fine with the divorce,” Caroline said soothingly. “And I know you like your new house, and being your own boss.”
Haven threw up her hands in frustration. “Then why do we keep talking about this?”
“I promised Ward I’d try,” Caroline admitted, and shrugged. “He doesn’t get it.”
“I don’t need him to get it,” Haven said, fighting to soften her tone. Her family meant well, but they couldn’t see how she could possibly be happy without the house in River Oaks, the corporate job, the country club membership. And she was tired of trying to explain it to them. “I just need him to stop treating me like I’m still fifteen.”
Caroline snorted and pulled her car keys out of her purse. “Good luck with that. Which reminds me, he wanted me to ask you to come with us to the country club New Year’s Eve party tomorrow night.”
“Oh, gee, let me think.” Haven pretended to ponder the question. “Not a chance.”
Caroline grinned, then glanced up as the elevator dinged. The doors slid open and a crowd of high school aged kids spilled out, laughing and shoving at one another.
Haven fought off an instinctive grimace. They seemed happy enough, and several were wearing jackets or sweatshirts with the logo of Colin’s school emblazoned on them, so it was clear they were celebrating the big win. But there were a lot of them, especially when the second elevator arrived and more kids tumbled out onto the parking deck, and between the crowd in the stadium and the crowd outside the locker room, she’d just about reached her limit of being jostled.
She shifted closer to Caroline’s SUV as they streamed past her. The noise level had risen sharply, shouts and laughter bouncing around the mostly empty parking garage. She shook her head at Caroline. “I’ll follow you home,” she said, pitching her voice above the din.
Caroline nodded and was turning toward the driver’s door when her gaze flicked past Haven. She froze, her eyes going wide.
Haven turned to see what had grabbed Caroline’s attention just as a loud thump echoed through the garage. “Dammit.”
A boy wearing a letterman jacket and battered sneakers was standing on the hood of her car. He jumped, his hands reaching overhead in a vain attempt to grab the fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling. He missed by a good foot, and landed so hard on the roof of the car that the metal buckled under his feet.
“What the fuck?” Haven forgot all about her desire to avoid the crowd. “Hey! Get the hell off of my car!”
The words were drowned out in a burst of laughter and jeering from the kids, and the boy gathered for another leap.
She took one instinctive step forward—to do what, she had no idea. Yell, scream, shove him off her car. But whatever it was, she never got the chance to do it. A heavy hand landed on her shoulder, a low voice rumbled, “I’ve got this,” and then she was staring at a man’s back as he brushed past her.
A broad back, she noticed, on a very tall man. Since he was walking away, she couldn’t see much else, but what she could see was impressive.
He had dark hair, cut almost military short, and wore a black t-shirt with long sleeves and the word ‘security’ emblazoned in large white letters on the back. Dark cargo pants covered long legs, and a utility belt circled his waist. It held a huge flashlight, what looked like pepper spray, and a handful of other gadgets she couldn’t readily identify.
Her eyes dropped to his butt, flexing as he walked and giving the thick cotton of his cargo pants a workout. It looked like someone had stuck two halves of a bowling ball under the fabric.
Make that very impressive.
The spark of sexual interest was a surprise; she hadn’t felt even so much as a twinge for anyone in months, despite her recent spurt of socializing. “I should’ve just been coming to football games,” she muttered, and realized when the words were clearly audible that the teenagers had gone quiet.
And for good reason. Sexy Security was approaching the kid standing on the hood of her car, who seemed to be the only one who didn’t realize he was in deep shit. All the kids around him had gone dead silent, so the sound of him jumping once again for the dangling light seemed unnaturally loud.
The kid managed to get his fingertips on the light this time, shouting with triumph as it clattered and clanged. His shoes skidded on the sloping hood when he landed, dropping him hard on his butt. He started to stand and glanced up, saw the security guard bearing down on him, and his already fair skin went dead white.
Sexy Security didn’t say a word, but Haven figured he didn’t have to. He reached down with his right hand, hooked his fingers in the edge of the kid’s jacket, and lifted him off the hood of the car as though he was made of feathers. The kid’s eyes went round with alarm, and his body lurched backwards in an instinctive attempt to wrench free. But then his shoulders sagged and his head drooped, and with a dejected look on his face, allowed Sexy Security to march him across the aisle towards the elevators.
Haven’s jaw went slack as she watched man and boy stride toward her. Well, man was striding—boy was sort of being dragged in man’s wake. He didn’t have much choice, because man was a tank.
The front view was even better than the back, and her already addled brain scrambled to suck in the details. His hair was dark brown, cut short and tight, though it was a bit longer on the top than she’d first realized. He had a beard, thick but neatly trimmed, that tapered to a point at his chin. She thought dimly that it should’ve made him look ridiculous, like a cartoon villain getting ready to tie a damsel in distress to the railroad tracks, but it didn’t. It looked fucking amazing.
He was striding past her now, the light above Caroline’s car hitting his face. His skin was a warm brown, almost bronze, and he had thickly lashed brown eyes. His eyebrows were sharply peaked, giving him a bit of a sinister air even though his expression was neutral. His gaze flicked to her as they passed, a quick up and down that lasted barely a heartbeat. The corners of his mouth twitched and his eyes warmed as they flicked back to her face, then she was looking at the back of his head again as he towed his quarry to the elevator.
“Who is that?”
Haven jerked around to see Caroline standing next to her, a delighted grin on her face. “I have no idea,” she mumbled, and like a compass drawn to magnetic north, turned to look at him again. He was standing by the elevators, joined now by a couple of other guys in security t-shirts who, despite being built like wrestlers, still managed to look short and small next to Sexy Security.
“He’s yummy,” Caroline breathed, and Haven nodded in agreement.
“And strong,” Caroline went on. “Did you see the way he picked that kid up? Like he was a trash bag full of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. Just picked him up. And he smiled at you.”
That had her jerking around. “What?”
“He smiled at you,” Caroline repeated with an emphatic nod. “You should go for it.”
“Go for what?” Haven asked, genuinely confused, then the gleam in Caroline’s eye registered. “Caroline. I’m not picking up the security guard.”
“Why not?” Caroline asked loudly, her voice bouncing around the now quiet parking garage. “Why not?” she asked again in a whisper. “He’s hot, and he’s not wearing a wedding ring.”
“Like that means anything. Plus, he’s clearly working,” Haven pointed out, and risked a look over her shoulder. He was still by the elevators, deep in conversation with the other men while the kid hung in his grip, looking miserable. His face was turned away, leaving her with no choice but to focus on the rest of him, all broad shoulders and long legs with plenty of muscles in between. He was still holding up the sulking kid, his bicep and forearm and shoulder muscles bunched up so they were visible even under his dark t-shirt, and Haven tried to remember the last time the sight of someone’s arm had put that little twist in her belly that she recognized as desire.
It had been a long time.
Then he turned slightly, putting his face in profile, and something about the sharp edge of his cheekbones and the curve of his jaw seemed familiar.
“I think I know him,” she said, wincing as the words came out louder than she’d intended. But he didn’t seem to notice, though one of the other security guys glanced over.
“Wait.” The tug on her elbow had Haven turning to see Caroline gaping at her. “You know him?”
“I think so.” Haven darted a look back over her shoulder. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but the more she looked at him the more familiar he seemed.
“Who is he? What’s his name? Is he married?”
“I don’t know.” She stared at him hard, willing her brain to make the connection, then shrugged. “He just looks familiar.”
“That’s your in!” Caroline’s eyes went bright with glee. “You just walk up to him and say, ‘I’m sorry, but you look so familiar to me. Do we know each other?’”
Haven rolled her eyes. “I’m not doing that.”
“Because it’s obvious.”
“So? Be obvious. Obvious is good. Obvious could get you laid!”
Haven resisted the urge to look again and instead turned her attention to her car. It was still surrounded by a gaggle of teenagers, though they were much more subdued now that the ring leader had been hauled off. “I’m going to go see if my car is all right.”
“Why?” Caroline muttered. “It’s not like it could look like more of a heap of junk.”
Haven ignored her and started towards her car, Caroline trailing behind her. She stopped at the front fender, where two boys had decided to plop their butts. “You’re sitting on my car.”
The one closest to her jumped up like she’d set his ass on fire, but the other one just eyed her with sullen suspicion. “How do we know it’s yours?”
She raised a brow. “You think I’d claim it if it wasn’t?”
That got her a reluctant smile, and a few titters from the crowd. “It’s a crap ride,” the kid agreed, but he stood. “You should get something hot.”
“I’ll take it under advisement,” she said drily, and examined the hood. It didn’t seem to be damaged too badly, but there were a couple of dents in the metal that hadn’t been there before. “Dammit.”
“Did he damage it?” a deep voice asked, and she looked up to find herself face to face with Sexy Security. Well, face to chest, because even at five foot nine and in boots, she was nowhere near his face.
She fought the urge to gape. His pectoral muscles were clearly visible, rising firmly under the tight stretch of cotton, adding to the flutters in her belly. She ordered herself to get a grip and looked up, over his long neck and neatly trimmed beard, past the strong, straight nose to his eyes.
They were lighter than she’d first thought, a pale, tawny brown that would’ve edged into hazel if they’d held even a hint of green, and they were fixed on her face with a mix of concern, determination, and amusement.
For some reason, the amusement made her want to lick him.
Since they were in a parking garage surrounded by children and she was a rational adult, she cleared her throat instead. “A couple of dents, nothing major.”
His eyes darted past her to the hood of the car, his eyebrows drawing down in a frown. “I’ll see that he pays for it.”
That prompted a snort from Caroline, who somehow managed to roll her eyes at Haven and gawk at the security guard at the same time. “Come on. You can’t even see the dents in the middle of all that oxidized paint.”
“It’s not about the car,” Haven began.
“Agreed.” Sexy Security turned to look at Caroline. “It’s about responsibility. Darren did the damage, so he’ll pay to fix it.”
“Darren?” The name slipped out before Haven could stop it, and brought his eyes back to her. “You know him?”
His eyes warmed with rueful humor. “I’m his chemistry teacher.”
Her mouth dropped open, but thankfully, he turned to eye the rest of the kids still milling about and missed it. “Y’all need to go on home.”
The kid who’d told Haven her ride needed upgrading shuffled his feet. “I’m supposed to give Darren a ride.”
There was an almost imperceptible softening of Sexy Security’s voice when he spoke. “He’s going to have to sit with security until his mom comes to get him, Cam.”
“Man.” Cam looked pained. “She’s gonna kill him.”
“I’m sure he’ll be at school next week,” Sexy Security countered. “Go on, all of you, before you get hauled in as accessories.”
That got them moving. Haven watched the crowd scatter, grumbling all the way, then shifted her attention back to the security guard. “Thanks for the help. I doubt I could’ve gotten them to move that fast.”
“No problem.” The corners of his lips tilted up in a small smile. “Do you have someone you can take the car to?”
“Not really.” Fuck me, he’s gorgeous. She cleared her throat and tried to act like a normal person instead of someone slowly dissolving into a puddle of lust. “Just the body shop at the dealership where I bought it.”
“I can give you some names, if you like.”
“That’d be great. Thanks.”
His smile widened. “No problem, Haven.”
Just A Little Crush is an older woman/younger man romance, and the story is fairly straightforward. However, there is mention of divorce (amicable), family pressure to conform to expectations (for both MCs) and both characters discuss the challenges they’ve each faced in their quest for permanent birth control (sterilization). There is also one scene that features aural voyeurism and exhibitionism.