long time. It’s been ten years since her father and four brothers shipped her
off to be raised by her aunt. Seven months since she’s seen the guy who got her
pregnant–who still doesn’t know. And it’s two weeks since she came home to
Chicago and discovered none of her family wants to talk–or listen.
tattoo shop seven months pregnant and get her socks knocked off by instant
attraction. She can’t even see her socks. But Kai Ellis is big and gruff and
sexy as hell, and if he has a past, well, so does she. Even more, Kai knows how
to listen so that Norah feels just a little less alone . . .
help Norah make her decisions. And no sizzle of desire will make Kai believe in
happy endings. But a little time with someone who understands might just change
everything . ..
Kai Ellis came from the back room to the musical sound of female laughter. The girl sitting across from Tommy at the front counter had an awesome rack spilling out of her tank top and her tits jiggled as she laughed.
“Hey,” he called, “I told you no girls while you’re on the clock. Get busy on your own time.”
Tommy dropped the food in his hand. “Gross, man. This is my sister.”
She wiggled her fingers. Then she pointed. To Tommy, she said, “Let’s ask your friend here, I’m sure he’s made mistakes in his life.”
“Boss.” Kai crossed his arms. He had no intention of answering questions about his mistakes, but it annoyed him that she jumped to the conclusion that he’d made them. Part of the reason for opening his own business was so he would never have to answer to anyone about his past again.
“I’m his boss.”
She continued on as if he hadn’t spoken. “It’s normal for people to make mistakes, right? Even if they’re huge mistakes, you still learn from them. Life lessons and shit.”
He knew all about making life-altering mistakes, but he still wasn’t about to discuss them. Addressing Tommy, he said, “Girlfriend or not, she needs to go.”
Her eyes popped wide and she slid from the stool. Tommy laid a hand on her arm. “It’s fine.” He twisted on the stool. “Kai, this is my sister, Norah. She just moved back to town.”
Norah stepped around Tommy with her hand extended. Her belly stuck out full with a baby. He’d forgotten about Tommy bitching about his pregnant sister.
When he didn’t move, she dropped her hand. “Sorry. I thought I’d catch Tommy before his client came in. I brought him lunch and dessert.” She turned and picked up a plate from the counter. “Want a Rice Krispies Treat?”
Her smile was friendly as she spoke, but her light blue eyes filled with mischief. Like she was offering up more than marshmallows and cereal. It was a good thing that belly was between them. He stayed rooted to his spot. Then his phone rang. Again. He’d ignored Jaleesa all morning, but if he planned to get any work done, he’d have to deal with her.
With his phone in hand, he spun and walked back out the way he came. “Yeah.”
“It’s about time. I’ve been calling you all morning.”
“Mom’s surgery went fine. She came through with flying colors.”
He’d figured as much. It was just her knee. “Good to know.”
“Are you coming to the hospital today?”
He walked until he hit the back door of the shop and stood in the alley. “I don’t know. Depends on how busy I get.”
“Kai, it’s not like this was some surprise. We scheduled it. You could make sure you’re free. You’re choosing not to.”
His sister’s sigh whistled in his ear. “We need to talk about where Mom will go when she’s released from the hospital. She’ll only be here a few days.”
“I thought you were looking into a rehab facility.”
“I tried, but it made her upset. She thinks we’re going to dump her off and leave her for good.”
“So explain to her that’s not the case. She knows she won’t be able to get around your house. It’s not like she lost her mind.”
“She’s feeling vulnerable and she’s worried about being alone.”
“I don’t know what you want from me, Jaleesa.”
“Maybe she could stay with you.”
“I have stairs in my house.”
“Five, Kai. Five measly steps to get up to your door. Everything else is on one floor. You have the space.”
What she really meant was that he could make the space for his mom to move in. He didn’t want to. His house was set up exactly as he wanted. He would have to move all of his workout equipment somewhere, probably to the basement or the garage. He had no furniture for her. No bed or anything. He didn’t have guests and he liked it that way.
“I can’t take care of Mom. I don’t know what to do with her.”
“And I do? You figure it out, Kai. That’s what you do for family.”
“I have a business to run and I keep long hours.”
“At least think about it. We can probably hire someone to fill in when you’re not around so she’s not alone, but she’ll feel secure in your house.”
“Why can’t we hire someone to help at your house?”
“Maybe we can convert some space to make it work.”
“My whole family isn’t losing our living room so you don’t have to man up.”
He shook his head, not wanting to lose this argument. “We’ll talk about this later. I have to go.”
“Try to stop by the hospital. It’ll make her happy.”
“Yeah.” He clicked off and stared at the brick building across from him. He was tempted to throw his phone to hear the satisfying crack of plastic against the wall. Instead, he inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. The air he sucked in was rank with the smell of rotting garbage. Tomorrow was pickup day and the heat did no favors for the Chinese restaurant on the corner.
The sun beat against his skin, searing it. Five minutes of quiet without thinking about his mom at the hospital. Anything was better than the damn hospital. Leaning against the back door, with his eyes closed, he allowed the sun to sink into him.
The door thumped against him and he stepped away. So much for his five minutes.
Under Your Skin was a different read, not really your typical story and your typical hero and heroine romance. It’s a slow romance, even though the two main characters, Kai and Norah, have chemistry. I will be honest. In the beginning, I wasn’t really a fan of either one of the characters. The title is very appropriate…the two get under each other’s skin as well as the readers. However, as I read further, I began to see things in each of them that made me like them more.
Norah has returned home to her brothers and father pregnant, and she refuses to name who the father is. Kai is her brother’s boss, and not a guy with much personality. There was one thing that really aggravated me about Norah…her procrastinating telling the father about being pregnant. I thought it was selfish of her, but on the flip side, she’s young, pregnant, and for a while without a job. Kai hires her to help with his mother who is recuperating. However, as time went on, Norah matured and did the right thing. I did like the honesty and raw emotions Schroeder used to help me understand what Norah was going through. She’s trying to decide whether to give her baby up for adoption or not. The choice is agonizing, and again Schroeder did a great job of expressing that. Now for Kai, OMG, I was so not impressed with him despite his sexiness. I felt like he didn’t care very much for his mom or his sister. I felt like he was selfish too, and at times, if I could have gotten into the Kindle and gotten my hands around his throat, I would strangle him. As with Norah, Schroeder made me understand where he was coming from too. He made some very bad choices in his past and had to pay the consequences. He’s trying to make a break from his past, but he can’t quite make his break 100 percent. He isn’t making bad choices, but he thinks he can help his friend, even though, his friend doesn’t want to help himself. His friend is keeping him tethered emotionally to that life. He has to make up his own mind to finally break free from the chains that are holding him back. But, that involves showing emotions for those he loves. It’s a challenge for him, and Schroeder does a great of expressing that. By the end, Kai had redeemed himself in my eyes, but what a difficult journey he had to take.
If you are looking for an enjoyable, quick read, give Under Your Skin a try!
is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a
large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3
nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) will release this
summer with the first title Under Your Skin.
When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and
loves to bake cookies. Find out more at: www.ShannynSchroeder.com