Title: Hold Me Close by Shannyn Schroeder
The O’Learys Series Book Five
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 274 pages
Leave it to the O’Learys to make romance a family affair…
Maggie O’Leary is finally coming home to Chicago. After more than a year in Ireland, she’s ready to make a plan for her future. But first, she’ll have to confront the tragedy that scarred her so deeply. Asking for a job in the family bar is the first step, and it’s one her family isn’t entirely happy about. At least Shane Callahan, her best friend in the world, is behind her a hundred percent. He’s also a hundred percent more lovable than she remembered…
Shane is determined to keep Maggie safe, even if it means working three jobs and giving up sleep to be around during her shifts at the bar. But when Maggie boldly tells him she needs more than a loyal friend now, Shane knows a single night together won’t be possible. The idea of spirited Maggie in his bed is electrifying, but will she believe he wants to give her his heart, too?
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This was what life was supposed to be. Shane settled back into the couch with Maggie curled up next to him to watch TV like they had hundreds of times over the years. For the past few days, he’d been torn up knowing she was angry. Knowing they were in the same city without talking every day felt weird. They’d talked almost every day when she was halfway around the world.
He probably should’ve felt bad for throwing Ryan under the bus, but he didn’t. If Maggie knew this was all Shane’s idea, she might figure out how to stay mad. He needed to be in her corner, and she wouldn’t believe that if she knew the truth.
Maggie finished a second piece of pizza and stood. “You want something? Moira brought beer.”
He twitched. Although he drank, he never did with Maggie. He always figured that if she wasn’t drinking, it made her uncomfortable. “You sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure she brought it. I put it in the fridge myself.” She looked at him like he was crazy.
“No. Are you sure it won’t bother you?”
“Why would it?”
He shifted forward and put the laptop back on the table. “Because you don’t drink.”
She continued to stare at him and her head tilted. “I choose not to drink because I don’t like to feel out of control.” She bit down on her bottom lip. “The last time I lost control like that, it didn’t end well. But it doesn’t bother me to be around people who drink. Shit. My whole family drinks. I work at a bar.”
Her eyes popped wide and she sank back to the couch. “You never drink around me. Why did I not realize that before?”
“Because it’s not important.”
“Yeah, it is.” She reached out and stroked his jaw. “You gave up drinking so I wouldn’t get upset. You’re the best kind of friend.”
With her hand on his face like that, he had a hard time keeping his thoughts friendly. “Don’t go overboard. I didn’t give up drinking altogether, just in front of you.”
“It’s still sweet.” She rose and went to the kitchen. When she came back, she held out a bottle of beer.
He accepted and said, “Thanks,” as he twisted the cap off.
Maggie sat and watched as he drank from the bottle.
“Ready for another show?”
She nodded and snuggled beside him again. If this was all he’d get out of life, he’d be happy. Maggie was safe and with him. At some point he might even be able to make a move to change their relationship. Every time he considered it, something stood in his way. At first, it was other guys. As a teen, she was rarely without a boyfriend. Then she’d been raped, and his greatest fear was that he would lose her, that she wouldn’t want to be near him because he hadn’t stopped it from happening. And then just as they seemed to be moving in that direction, she took off to Europe.
Part of him wanted to grab her and kiss her and tell her she’d always be safe with him.
But it would freak her out. She was still battling her demons. So he would wait until she was ready. He would have only one shot and he couldn’t afford to blow it.
Maggie was shoving at his shoulder, and he squinted at her. Damn. He’d fallen asleep.
“I would let you stay asleep, but this is my bed.”
He pushed forward. “What?” He rubbed his eyes.
“I don’t have a bed yet. I’m going shopping tomorrow. Until then, this is my bed.” She pointed at the couch.
“Why did you move if you don’t have furniture?”
She lifted a shoulder. “Anxious, I guess.”
He stood and stretched. “Sorry I fell asleep. Guess I was more tired than I thought.” He took his empty beer bottle to the kitchen. “Trash can?”
“On the shopping list for tomorrow.”
He shook his head. The girl hadn’t planned for anything. “I have a queen-sized bed. You’re welcome to share it with me.”
She chewed her lip again. “No, that’s okay. I’ll be fine here.”
He rolled his shoulders. They’d often crashed together, always fully clothed, a safe distance between them. The first time, they’d still been in high school, and he’d thought for sure the O’Learys were going to skin him. He and Maggie had studied late for finals and fell asleep. After that, it had been normal.
In fact, the one thing that told him they were okay after the rape was that she’d asked him to stay with her one night.
“You know where to find me if you change your mind.” He let himself out of her apartment and walked next door.
Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the new Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends and their last spring break. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.
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