Grief has brought them together again—will love open the door to their future? When it’s an O’Leary in the picture, finding out is just part of the adventure…
Carmen Delgado is left reeling when her father dies. Taking care of him has been her sole purpose for so long, she’s forgotten what it’s like to have dreams of her own. And with steady, sexy Liam O’Leary inheriting a share in her dad’s successful food truck, Carmen is suddenly free to explore her life’s possibilities. She never expected Liam to provide the kind of temptation she’s not sure she can resist…
A talented chef, Liam O’Leary has been itching to open his own restaurant for years—and the death of his mentor is a reminder that time passes too quickly. Gus’s Taco Taxi isn’t exactly what he dreamed of, but he can’t desert Gus’s daughter. Working side by side is an unexpected pleasure—and grownup Carmen is alluring in all new ways. Is love on the menu—or will old fears and insecurities drive them apart?
Just a Taste
The O’Learys # 5
By: Shannyn Schroeder
Releasing January 19th, 2015
“Are you trying to get me drunk?”
“I’m not trying to, but if it happens, so be it. Everyone needs to cut loose on occasion.” His glass was still near full. “I’ll make sure you get home safely.”
She sighed. Safe had been her whole life. Maybe she was tired of being safe. The waitress brought her second drink and Carmen wondered what she and Liam would talk about. The alcohol was loosening her up, but she found that he was okay with sitting in silence.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t. “Are you naturally antisocial or what?”
Somewhere in her brain, she knew the question probably came out sounding rude, but she didn’t have the skills to fix it at this particular moment.
“No. At least I don’t think so. Why do you ask?”
“When you worked at the restaurant, it felt like you were always on your own. I’d talk with the other staff, both front of house and back, but you kept your distance.” She wanted to ask why he’d avoided her, never asked her out like the other guys had. She’d never taken any of them seriously, so she’d always turned them down, but she probably would’ve said yes to him.
He shrugged. “I didn’t feel welcome most of the time.”
Liam had felt like an outsider? The thought had never occurred to her. “That’s too bad. I would’ve welcomed you.”
He smiled again, the lines in his cheeks deepening. “You were usually looking for a way to escape. Why did you hate working there so much?”
Blowing out a breath, she raised her drink to her lips. How she could explain her need to avoid the temptation of food. By the age of seventeen, she’d already been teased so much about her weight, that all she wanted was to be thin. Being in the restaurant, around her favorite foods, made it near impossible.
She looked into Liam’s cool blue assessing eyes. And lied. “I didn’t hate the whole restaurant. Just the kitchen stuff. I don’t like to cook. It’s not my thing.”
“Maybe I should give you lessons.”
She thought of his strong, capable hands, the roped muscles in his forearms, and suppressed a shiver. What was wrong with her?
“What is your thing?”
Hmm…the question was innocent enough, but she’d spent so much time with Rosa and the alcohol filtering into her brain made her thoughts not so innocent. She was beginning to think he might be her thing. “Business. That’s what I majored in for college. I’ve been taking care of the office stuff for my dad since I’ve been home.”
He pressed his lips together like he had to consider her answer. She drank some more. The second margarita went down even smoother than the first and she was reminded why she’d gotten drunk so easily. Liam’s glass was empty.
“Do you want another, or do you have to go?” she asked.
“I’ll get you another. I’ll stick with water. I’m driving.”
See, she knew he was one of those super-responsible guys. That’s what her dad always said. Liam is a good boy. Find a man like him, Carmen, and you’ll be fine. “My dad really loved you.”
Liam froze, his arm in the air again to get the waitress’s attention. When the waitress came over he ordered for them. Then he turned in his seat to fully face her. “I loved Gus too. I’m sorry I wasn’t around more.”
“Shoot. I didn’t say that to make you feel bad. I was thinking about him and you and stuff he always said.”
“I know, but I do feel bad. We talked on the phone sometimes, but I should’ve made time to visit.”
She reached out and rubbed his forearm. Her dark skin contrasted sharply with his pale complexion. “He understood. He liked that you were going after your dreams and finding success. You were like a son to him.”
The alcohol had her babbling and she hadn’t even started on her third one yet. She didn’t want to stop, though. Allowing the alcohol to relax her was freeing. She didn’t have to put on a brave face for anyone. She didn’t have to pretend to know what she was doing or that she had her shit together.
Right here, in this moment, she could just be a halfway drunk girl hanging out with an old friend. A cute old friend, which made the evening better.
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.