by Kate Squires
If you liked That Kiss, then you’ll love That Promise!
All this tragedy has shown me over and over again is that life is precious. You should go after the things you truly want and not let anything stop you. I am yours, I’ve been yours for longer than either of us have ever admitted.
Can love really triumph above all? Find out in Kate Squires’s immensely enjoyable novel, That Promise.
The highly anticipated sequel to That Kiss finds Chloe Shepherd, now a successful Broadway dancer, happily engaged to her longtime friend and lover, Matt Masen.
But the path to love is never easy, and Chloe and Matt soon find themselves fighting over everything from Matt’s desire to move to Los Angeles in order to pursue his dream job, to a Russian male dancer’s apparent obsession with Chloe.
Determined to save their relationship, the couple takes a trip to LA in an attempt to see if it’s really a place they could call home. It’s there that the fire between them is rekindled, and plans are soon underway to move the wedding forward.
Their troubles aren’t over yet, however, as Matt’s ex-girlfriend shows up with a bombshell secret—and Chloe’s naiveté lures her into a life-threatening situation.
“I never want you to cry over something I’ve done or not done. I only want you to be happy. I vow to myself and to you to always tell you how much you mean to me and to make sure you know what’s in my heart at all times. When we get angry at each other, I will not rest until everything is resolved. Every day will end with you in my arms for the rest of our lives together. You are my best friend and lover, my sounding board and my soft place to land, my sanity and my crazy fun time. You are mine, Chloe Shepherd, forever. And if you leave this earth before me, there will be no other, for no one, nothing, could ever replace the feelings I hold in my heart for you.” -Matt Masen, That Promise
“We need more water. I’ll get the hose,” he says, as he runs to the side of the house.
She watches as he struggles to drag the heavy garden hose to the backyard.
“Need help?” she calls to him. He gives her a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me kind of look. She rolls her eyes and puts her hands on her hips. “Boys! They don’t think girls can do anything.”
He continues to pull until he finally makes it to the mudhole.
“There. Now let’s make our swamp even bigger,” he says, already coated with mud.
Matt and Chloe fill their play area with the second ingredient needed to make mud. After they are satisfied that it’s full enough, they both jump in. Splashing about and laughing while they roll around, they feel like two pigs on a farm. Chloe pretends she’s at a spa and paints her arms and legs. Matt thinks he’s an army sniper and crawls on his belly through the wet mess. He then sits, takes a big handful, and plops it on top of his head. Chloe laughs and repeats the gesture on her head. Soon they both resemble giant chocolate Easter bunnies. A rope swing hangs from the tree branch above. Matt grabs ahold of it and takes a few steps backward.
“Look, Chlo! I’m Tarzan!” He glides, dragging the tops of his feet through the muck. Then he lets go, twists, and falls right onto his bottom. She laughs and laughs but wants to try it too.
“My turn!” She declares and takes the rope. Backing up, she jumps off the ground, pulls her knees up, and then straightens them to let her feet skim across the mud at the bottom of the hole. A tree root that is sticking up slightly catches over her toes and stops her in midglide.
“Aagh!” She lets go, falling face-first. The fall knocks the wind out of her, and her eyes fill with tears.
Matt rushes over to his best friend. “Chlo! Chlo, are you okay? What happened?” He kneels down beside her and pulls her into a sitting position. With a protective arm around her shoulders, he tries to console her.
As she continues to cry, she knows that in a matter of minutes she’ll feel better. Matt always has the power to make everything all right.
She is right, as usual, and the two continue their carefree playing in the hot summer sun.
He dips his head, and I moan loudly.
“My God, Matt, your sweet torture is driving me crazy.”
“Mmm hmm,” he hums and then blows gently on my over sensitized skin. “I know.”
He looks up at me with a devious grin and begins again.
I am spent. I can do nothing but lie here on our bed, trying to slow my panting breaths and calm my rapid heartbeat. Matt flops down on his back beside me. I glance over at him as his body sinks into the mattress. He looks thoroughly pleased with himself. I smile.
“What?” Matt inquires.
I shake my head.
“What?” he insists.
He twists his mouth and raises one eyebrow, silently telling me he doesn’t believe me.
“It’s nothing, really. My mind is just awash with all that has happened over the last few months. I can hardly believe that I went from wishing my life was more like a fairy tale to it actually being one.”
“I know what you mean. Not the fairy tale part, just that we are together after all the stuff we went through.”
He leans up on his elbow and strokes my cheek with his knuckles.
“I would go through it all over again if it meant that we would end up right here,” he says and smiles his beautiful boyish smile.
My face mirrors his, and I lean up and kiss his sculpted lips. Oh my, his lips. I melt every time they touch mine. He starts to pull back, so I twist my fingers around the hair at the back of his head to keep him from moving as I go in for a second round. We wind our tongues around each other in a slow, seductive dance, and I can feel it all the way to my toes. One kiss turns into a few and then a full-blown make-out session. Before I know it, our bodies are tangled once again for yet another very intimate display of our love.
As I come down from my high, I am quiet and contemplative. He nudges me gently with his elbow.
“Everything okay?” Matt asks—a little concerned, I think.
“Yes, everything is great. Why?”
“I don’t know. You just seem quiet. What’s going on in that beautiful head of yours?”
“About how this next year is going to go.”
“Oh. Are you talking about the wedding?”
I swivel my head quickly so our eyes meet. I almost forgot, well kind of. I mean, the thought of getting married at my age sounds a little ridiculous, but then again, people our age get married all the time.
“Um, no, that’s not what I was thinking.”
But I am now.
“Are you still okay with the idea of getting married? I hope I haven’t pushed you into something you’re not comfortable with. Please tell me if you’re having second thoughts. I mean, I—”
“Shh, relax. I am not having second thoughts,” I say as I place my index finger on his mouth in an attempt to silence him. “I’m just not sure I want to set a date that’s too soon. I mean, I definitely want to be Mrs. Matthew Mason someday, but I don’t want to rush into it and end up divorced and alone with my six cats living in my apartment or worse, moving back home to Ohio to live in my parents’ house while they trot around the globe and bring me sad souvenirs from places I will never visit.” I’m breathless.
His eyebrows shoot up, and he chuckles.
“Whoa, Chlo! What are you talking about? We are not getting divorced. We haven’t even set a date for our wedding yet!” he admonishes. “And you don’t own one cat, let alone six. Where is this anxiety coming from?”
I sigh and throw my arm over my face. A moment of silence goes by, and Matt lifts it up to peek at me.
“Hey,” he says softly, “what’s going on with you?”
I roll onto my side and stare into his gorgeous green eyes. I can so easily get lost in them. As I push a stray lock of hair from his forehead, I search my mind for the right words, but come up short.
“Chlo, you can tell me. I can take it.”
I blow out a puff of air and smile warmly at him.
“It’s nothing you have to mentally prepare yourself for, silly. It’s just a little case of cold feet, I guess.” I touch his face affectionately. “Please don’t ever think I don’t want to marry you. I love you, and I’m so glad you found me again. There is nothing in this world I want more than to be your wife. Please believe me. It’s just that this relationship is moving so fast, and I worry that it might be moving too fast. I don’t want something stupid to change the way you feel about me and screw up our very promising future.”
Relief washes over his face, and he visibly relaxes. He sits up and pulls me to him, and we sit facing each other. With both hands, he takes hold of my face and looks straight into my eyes.
“Chlo, this is your show. You alone decide how fast or slow it goes. I told you before, I will take my cues from you, and we will go at your pace. I don’t care how long it takes.” He pauses. “I will get you to that altar, though, even if it takes us a thousand years to do it.” He smiles a wide grin. “Hell, we might just be the oldest bride and groom at our nursing home!”
I giggle and smack his leg.
“I don’t plan to wait that long!”
“Oh, good,” he laughs. “I’m not sure either of us would remember our vows at that point anyway.”
I roll my eyes and smile. He is so good at getting me out of a somber mood. He always has been, and that’s one of the many things I love about him.
“Matt, have you seen my baseball hat?” I call to him from our bedroom.
“The only one I have. You know, it’s black with a glittery heart on the front of it.”
“Um…nope, I haven’t seen it, sorry. Where are you going today anyway?”
I peek my head out of the bedroom and look down the hallway toward the living room. Matt is sitting on the couch with his laptop open—typing something into Google, no doubt. I saunter toward him and look over his shoulder at what he is doing. He glances up at me.
“What are you Googling?” I ask him.
“Oh, well, I was just trying to look up things to do in New York City. I’ve ruled out attractions with a lot of steps because I didn’t think your Gram would appreciate too much exercise.”
He is so sweet. He’s always thinking about things like that.
“Good thinking. I’m sure Gram’s feet would thank you too.” I grin. “Although, I have to tell you, I’m not sure Gram is up for much sightseeing at all on this trip. It’s pretty cold out. If it were summer or even spring, there’d be a lot more to do. As it stands, well, I think I’ll just stick to taking her out to eat.”
He smiles and nods his head. “Probably a wise decision.”
“Do you want to come with us? I know my parents and Gram would love it if you would come.”
He smiles with a look of resignation on his face and shakes his head.
“I wish I could, but I can’t. Jake and I are working on that proposal to expand the company. If all goes well, we may be able to split it into two, with each of us in charge of our own division.”
“Oh,” I say, not quite understanding what that means.
“Oh? Chlo, don’t you get it? I could be my own boss. I could go anywhere in the world and set up shop. We could end up in LA or Chicago or maybe even Europe. We could go anywhere we want. I could hire my own crew and make my own hours. I could support both of us, and you wouldn’t have to work so hard.”
Well, that would be nice, but I don’t mind working. The truth is being a dancer is more like fun, less like work. I admit it would be exciting to see a little more of the world though. I’ve never been any farther west than Illinois, and although my dad took us to Florida for vacations, I slept most of the way there and missed the states we drive through. Still, what about my job at the Palace? I love it there and would miss it and the people I work with, especially Drew. I’m not sure I want to leave this city that I have adopted.
“I didn’t mean it to sound like that, Matt. It’s just a lot to consider, and until it’s a done deal, I’d rather not think too much about it. It does sound like a great opportunity for you though.”
“Us. It would be great for us, Chlo.”
“Us, right. That’s what I meant.”
He looks at me skeptically but says nothing further.
“I’m going to go out with my family. I’ll call you when I get there.”
“And when you are leaving,” he adds, his tone scolding.
“Yes, and when I am leaving.” I smile at him and kiss his lips. For one solitary moment, all is right in the world.
I reach the hotel where my parents and Gram are staying. Dad informs us that he has no intention of going on a day of shopping and sightseeing with a gaggle of women and opts to stay behind. We all seem fine with his decision and start our adventure in the Big Apple. Our first stop is Tiffany and Company. Gram says a movie was named after that store, but I’ve never seen it. We stop in a few exclusive shops that sell haute couture, but mostly we window shop. Spending the day with the two most influential women in my life just feels good. We end up at a restaurant for lunch, and the conversation turns to my impending wedding.
“So, have you two lovebirds set a date yet?” Gram says with a wink.
“Ugh, Gram, no, we haven’t. There is plenty of time to think about the wedding. We are not in a hurry.”
Gram shoots me a look, and I know I’ll face an interrogation sometime in my future.
“Okay, so you don’t have a date yet, but have you thought about where you’ll have it? I mean, will it be here or in Ohio?” Mom inquires.
I sigh. “I don’t know, Mom. We really haven’t discussed it at all. It’s still very new. Just give us some time to think about it, and you’ll be the first to know.”
Mom throws her hands in the air as if to surrender. She obviously can sense my frustration with this conversation and changes the subject. I regret making her feel as though she was bothering me with her inquiries but the truth is, it was bothering me, and I’m not sure why. I love Matt—very much—and I do want to marry him, someday, so why is the subject so sore? As soon as it comes up, all I want to do is to shut it down. I feel the need to apologize to her.
“Mom, I’m sorry if I was short with you. It’s just that my wedding is still sort of surreal for me. I don’t think it’s really sunken in yet. Besides, we are going to have a long engagement. We’ve been friends for a lifetime. We have no need to rush into the rest of our lives.”
“I understand, honey.” She’s smiling but doesn’t look completely convinced. She turns her attention to Gram. “I’m ready to go back to the hotel, Thelma. How about you?”
“Oh, Becca, already? We just got started,” Gram protests.
“Well, you might not be tired, but I am. We have a long flight tomorrow, and I’d like to get a full night’s rest before then.”
“Mom, how about if you, Dad, and Gram come over to our apartment later tonight. We can hang out and talk about the old days in Brunswick. I’ll get some finger food put together. It’ll be fun. Please?”
She hesitates for a moment, and then I see her eyes soften.
“Okay, we’ll come over, but just for a little while.”
Gram claps her hands once in celebration. “It’s a date!” she says.
After a quick trip to the grocery store, Matt and I prepare the apartment for our guests. I am making lemon chicken for dinner because it’s one of the dishes I’m good at. Gram loves broccoli, so that’ll go on the menu too. I am peeling potatoes when Matt walks into the kitchen.
“Hey, my little chef,” he says and plants a soft kiss on my forehead.
I look up and smile at him, but it’s fleeting. I am a little stressed at the prospect of my family coming over to dine with us tonight.
“Hi. Did you get the living room vacuumed? My mother is sort of a clean freak, and I don’t need any reason for her to find fault with our place.”
“Relax, baby. I’ve got everything under control. Your mom will never suspect how we really keep this place.” He gives me his boy-next-door smile.
I smack his arm in faux frustration. “Hey! Our place is always clean! Well…most of the time. We just won’t tell her about where you put your dirty, stinky socks when you take them off.” I cough and say “middle of the floor” at the same time. He grins wider.
“Miss Shepherd, are you suggesting that I do not put my dirty clothes in the hamper after taking them off?”
“Well, if the sock fits…”
“Oh really? I guess I’ll have to prove you wrong then, won’t I?”
Matt takes my hand and bids me to stand and follow him.
“Matt, I still have a ton of stuff to do before everyone gets here,” I whine.
He puts his finger up to my lips, and I roll my eyes at this gesture. What is he doing? I follow him as he leads me into our bedroom.
“Oh no, no you don’t. I do not have time for sex with you, Matt.”
“Who says we’re having sex? I am just trying to prove to you that I know where my clothing goes after it leaves my body.” He says this and runs a seductive hand down the front of his body, starting at his chest and moving slowly down to his stomach.
Oh. My. Is it hot in here?
Once his hand is below his waist, he grabs the bottom of his tight-fitting shirt and leisurely begins to pull it upward, watching my reaction the whole time. Bit by bit, he exposes his tight, muscular abs. Each muscle of his six-pack flexes as it comes into my view, and I begin to feel a familiar warming sensation. He continues with the ascent of his garment and soon exposes his chest. I note with a twinge of satisfaction that his nipples are hard. I lick my lips reflexively, and he smirks. Gah! He knows he’s getting to me, which will only make him amp up his game. He then rolls his shoulders slightly to allow his shirt to move past them and quickly pulls it off, over his head, throwing it into a nearby laundry basket.
“If you th-think this is going to get you laid then think a-again,” I stutter.
“I have no idea what you mean,” he says in a raspy, sexy voice. He’s good, I’ll give him that, but two can play this game.
I turn around to face away from him and begin to hike up my skirt.
“What are you doing?” he inquires.
“Well, I’ve been wearing these leggings all day, and I suddenly feel the need to take them off. I have to push my skirt up to get to the top.” I deliberately overexaggerate my movements. When I start to pull the leggings down, I calculatingly hook my thumbs inside my panties too. I am still facing away from him and can’t see his reaction, but I can hear it. His breathing has become harder and more labored, and I giggle inwardly. Ha!
“Chlo, you are not playing fair.”
I turn around, my leggings at my ankles, and sit on our bed.
“Who said anything about being fair? Would you be a dear and help me take these the rest of the way off?”
His eyes flare briefly, and a small smile plays on his face. “Anything I can do to help you out. You know I’m all about being helpful.”
He kneels down in front of me and looks up my leg, past my exposed, already wet flesh, and up to my face. His eyes are hooded as he gently tugs at the leggings, pulling them off one foot at a time. I throw my head back; I just can’t handle watching him do this. I feel his warm, wet tongue encircle my big toe, and he begins to suck gently on the pad. I moan and hear his satisfied chuckle. Bastard! He knows exactly what he’s doing. He proceeds to lick and suck on every toe. On the very last one, he bites down firmly but gently, and I wince slightly but then moan, louder this time. I don’t care that he has won. I just want him inside me, now.
“Matt, please, I need you,” I pant.
“Shh, baby, I know.”
To purchase a copy of That Promise, click on the link below. Happy reading!
Kate Squires, Author Contemporary Romance Novels That Kiss, That Promise, I Will Catch You, Tracing Hearts, When Love Breaks, When Love Walks, and On the Edge of Regret