Welcome message


Free Reads From the Genre-istas will close to story posts in February of 2015.
Until we close, we w
ill do Encore Postings each Friday beginning Jan. 9th. Thank you for your interest and support!


Friday, March 22, 2013


by Jenna Bayley-Burke 

Emma Riley hasn't seen Colin Davis since he gave her her first kiss, and walked out of her life. But since they were only fourteen and his family moved across the country, he can't really be blamed. Can fate, first love, and a warm smile convince Emma kismet does exist? 

A warm finger tapped on Emma Riley’s bare shoulder. She straightened her posture and tried to shrug off the touch. Emma didn’t like bars, hated the men who tried to pick up on her even more. But her coworkers insisted on a post-seminar drink.
“My friend says he knows you.” Emma turned at the sound of the deep voice behind her, as did her three coworkers.
“That’s a great line, but I’m not interested.” The man was handsome, looked jovial and safe. But Emma knew men in resort bars were looking for a fling. And she didn’t do flings.
“I agree with you. But he,” the man gestured over his shoulder, “he insists he knows you. I bet him twenty bucks he doesn’t.”
Emma’s gaze was drawn to the back of the bar, where a man with spiky blonde hair sat, shaking his head. When he looked up his eyes locked with hers and her heart stalled. Even the lopsided grin was the same as it had been when she’d last seen him. Over a decade ago, in junior high.
Emma slipped off the barstool, her feet barely touching the ground as she made her way to his table. He stood as she approached, his smile widening until dimples pressed into his cheeks.
“Colin Davis, when did you get so tall?” Emma smiled up at him, unsure if hugging him would be appropriate. It had been so long. They’d known each other most of their lives, up until the day his parents split up and they moved away. When he said goodbye he’d kissed her. Her first kiss.
“I started growing when I was about sixteen.” His eyes sparkled as he stepped closer, but he didn’t make a move, just pulled out a chair and motioned for her to sit.
“It must have been that Texas heat.” She took her seat and watched him take his. The boy she’d known barely visible in the man across from her. Still, he felt exactly as she remembered. Warm, accepting, honest. “Did you like it there?” 
“Texas?” Collin shrugged. “It was all right. Better than Florida, not as good as Colorado.”
“You kept moving?” Emma leaned forward in her chair; thankful for the reprieve from the clucking hens she worked with. At twenty-six she was a decade younger than any of them, which they felt gave them free reign to tell her how to live her life. Colin’s friend kept them occupied by the bar, allowing Emma to get answers to all the questions she’d had over the years.
“Every time Dad got promoted. I hoped we’d make it back to Oregon, but it never happened.”
They caught up on stories of old friends, traded tales of college, and shared about their families and jobs. Talked as comfortably as if not a day had passed.
“Emma, we’ve got a program at eight tomorrow morning.” She blinked to awareness, taking in Meredith, her supervisor, and the clock on the wall alerting her three hours had gone by while she reminisced with Colin. She should go, but her body stayed planted. She didn’t want to leave him again, not yet. She introduced her friend to Colin, explaining the amazing coincidence.
Colin shifted so he could shake Meredith’s hand across the table. His foot slid next to Emma’s, making her gasp as her body vibrated at the connection. Colin grinned as he chatted with Meredith, keeping his foot firmly against Emma’s.
“We’re going to head on up. Are you coming, Emma?” Meredith asked.
Emma’s stomach plummeted. She wanted to stay, but staying would subject her to office speculation for the next year, at least.
“Can you give me a minute?” Meredith made herself scarce and turned back to Colin. “I’d love to stay and catch up more, but we have to present our pitch at the convention tomorrow.”
“I’ll walk you up later.” He reached for her hand across the table, his grasp warm around her fingers, melting her resolve.
“I don’t want them, or you, to misinterpret what’s going on.”
Colin tilted his head to the side. “Please tell me you’re not engaged.”
“No, it’s not that.” Emma knew she was blushing, but continued. “I don’t have men in my room. Even old friends.”
“Wow. I always wondered what kind of woman you would become, Emma Riley.”
Emma chuckled and shook her head. Even in junior high the kids called her old-fashioned. “The same kind I always was, I suppose.”
“Even better than I remember.” Colin wrapped his other hand around hers. “Do you like your job? Not advertising, but the position you have? The firm you work for?”
Emma furrowed her brow and tried to catch his meaning. “I’m good at what I do.”
“But would you do it from Virginia, or do you need to stay in Oregon?”
“Virginia?” He’d said his aeronautics firm was based in Virginia. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“I think there’s a reason we’re both here. It has to be fate, right?” Colin spoke quickly, his voice becoming hypnotic. “I mean, I know you never forget your first love, but it always felt like more than that. As if we really missed out on something. I was a kid then, there wasn’t much I could do about letting you go. But now, I don’t want to.”
“What are you saying?” Emma studied his face for clues, her heart wrapping around his words. First love. He’d been that for her, she’d fixated on him for years after he left. But she never imagined it had been the same for him.
“I don’t think there’s been a day I didn’t love you, Emma. When I moved I tried to convince myself we were fourteen, and that I’d get over it. But I never did. I always wondered where you were, who was holding you, how you felt when I left.”
Colin had been so brutally honest Emma couldn’t help but do the same. “I was heartbroken. No one has ever kissed me like you did.”
“It was my first time. I promise, I’ve gotten better.” The dimples were back, his smile so big it pressed into his eyes. Deep blue, fascinated, clever. She could stare into his eyes forever.
“It was fantastic.”
“You want to try it again?”
“Yes, but –”
“Come back with me to Virginia. I don’t want to be without you for another day. We let too many get away.”
Emma couldn’t deny the feeling of kismet, the power she’d felt when their stares met, the electricity when their bodies touched. It was nothing she’d ever experienced before. A nuance of feeling at once familiar and unknown.
“Emma? Are you ready to go?” Meredith’s voice broke the trance. Emma reigned in her thoughts, but kept her gaze on Colin. Did she dare? Her cheeks heated as a slow smile lifted her lips.
“I’m going to stay with Colin.” Forever.        

© 2007 Jenna Bayley-Burke

 Library Journal has this to say about Jenna Bayley-Burke's 3/26 novel release, Caribbean Casanova.
"An all-around good tale, with lots of spicy sensuality and graphic language. A good read for the beach this summer."



  1. What a sweet, poignant story, Jenna!

    There are those that doubt love can grow from childhood and last, but I know it can. My parents fell in love at fifteen and sixteen, married young, and loved each other forever. My husband and I fell in love at sixteen and eighteen, married young, and are still in love after 42 years.

    Maybe it was Kismet!

  2. Great story, Jenna! Young love can blossom into more.

  3. Great read, Jenna.

    Too many times we let opportunities pass us by because we're afraid or too practical to take a chance. I'm glad Emma followed her heart and stayed with Colin.