So if you’ve been reading along in the Chase and Petal series, you know Royal Watson first came onto the page as the guy who on-again-off-again dated Anne Murphy for the last several years. Royal’s a good guy. He loved Anne but in Lost in You, he had to accept Anne was never going to want what he did, most certainly not with the same depth of feeling he did. So he finally broke things off for good and when Count on Me starts, we’re a good year and a half after that break up and he’s finally and truly moved on.
Which works out for our heroine, Caroline, as she comes back to Petal and meets up with Royal, a guy she crushed on back in high school. But he’s all grown up now:
He pulled one more down and turned to drop them in her cart. That’s when she realized it was Royal Watson. All grown up.
He faced her and all her parts stood up and cheered. Like a full-stadium wave.
“Hey, it’s Caroline Mendoza.”
Oh. That accent. All Southern charm. Sexy and slow, like he tasted every word, savoring it before he let it go. She did love a Southern drawl coming from a man who used words like ma’am when they opened doors and retrieved things from high shelves. She knew it was pretty old school of her, but damn she didn’t even care.
“Hey, it’s Royal Watson. Thanks again for the assist.”
His grin made her want to moan.
Back in high school, he’d been two grades ahead. He’d been that super cute older boy who probably never noticed her existence. And of course by the time she’d grown into her body, he’d grown into his everything and she’d left town.
Royal is indeed very, very laid back, but over the course of the story you realize, as does Caroline, that laid back could still equal alpha male:
He got out and went around to her side but when he pulled her down, he hauled her close. “No he wasn’t worth it. Not one bit. You’re worth it, Caroline. No one gets to harm you or joke about it or try to scare you with it. No one.”
She knew she should have been upset. Or mad or sad. But the way he’d defended her, his eyes sparking, fists balled up just right for punching—well, it made her hot all over and she wanted to rub herself on him. Wanted to kiss and sniff and nuzzle and all those super weird primal things.
This Royal who held her was a man whose territory had been invaded. She was his and she realized it was no small matter to belong to a man like Royal Watson.
“You’re a sneak alpha.” Damn it. And it was too late.
One corner of his mouth tipped up as he took her hands and pulled her into the house. “Sit so I can take your boots off,” he said, his lips on hers.
She flopped onto his couch and took a long, leisurely look from his toes up to the top of his head. “Damn.”
“Is that a good damn or a bad damn?”
He pulled one boot off and then the other. “Not only are you a sneak alpha, you smell really good and your body goes all ripply when you take my boots off.”
His smile bloomed over his face, and every part of her stood up and cheered. “Wow.”
He motioned with a tip of his chin as he helped her to her feet, giving a gentle push toward his bedroom.
“Go on, darlin’.” He stalked behind her, all that masculine power flooding through her like a blast of heat.
Still, she needed to give as good as she got.
Caroline looked back over her shoulder, riveted by the sight of his mouth.
“I’m not a sneak anything. Many people mistake being easygoing for being shallow or weak. I don’t have any call to go getting all worked up over every little thing, Caro. But some things are worth getting worked up over.”