A hard man is good to find...and impossible to resist.
The Vaughn Series, Book 4
Since a car accident left her unable to have children, Grace Vaughn has hidden her heart behind a wall. So far it's held strong, and no one complains much--except the few men she dates.
Now that fortress is crumbling thanks to Jackson Hill, an annoyingly attractive man who makes her imagination go wild just watching him in the office. He's practically bullied her into attending a Vegas conference with him. Three days alone with the delicious Jackson--in Sin City, no less--is sure to push her right over the edge.
With a loving family, a decent bank account, a nice set of clubs, Jackson's life is almost complete. Except for the missing piece. Grace. She sets a fire in his blood, and the conference is the perfect crowbar to get past her defense mechanisms. It's time to see if the bump-and-grind potential in that booty of hers can be channeled into something a little more satisfying than looking.
He's got just the tactic to get her to let down her guard--and hopefully her panties. A wicked bet. Because if there's one thing he knows about Grace, she can't resist a double-dog-dare...
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August 24, 2009
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Excerpt from Tempting Grace by Anne Rainey
"Stop frowning. Your face will stick that way one of these days."
Grace looked up from the flat screen monitor to find Jackson grinning down at her, his hands in his pockets. God, the man was yummy. His close-cropped dark hair and chiseled cheekbones had always made her think of a tough guy from an action movie. His hard, muscular frame wasn't anything to overlook either. For the first time she wondered if he'd ever been in the military. He seemed ex-something. SEAL. Marine. Sniper. Dangerous and sexy, both of those words described Jackson Hill's powerful physique and hypnotic silver eyes.
"So, no black eye. Am I to assume you two didn't engage in a fist fight then?"
He tsked. "We're adults. We solve things like men, not prickly teenagers."
She let that one pass, though she had at least a dozen good comebacks on the tip of her tongue. "Still have a job?"
Jackson pulled his hands out of his pockets and braced himself against her desk. As he leaned down, she could smell his masculine scent, like the jungle, wild and untamed. "Hoping Merrick fired me?"
Her cheeks burned at his words. "I shouldn't have gone to Merrick. I'm sorry."
Jackson reached out and touched her cheek. "That almost seemed sincere, Gracie."
She jerked backward, out of his reach, and growled, "Screw it, I'm not sorry."
Jackson's grin disappeared. "Come into my office. I need to talk to you."
"Jackson, this isn't--"
He cut her off with a hand in the air. "I need a little privacy. Please?"
Grace didn't really have a choice at that point and she damn well knew it. Jackson was simply too adorable when he murmured please in that sexy baritone of his. She stood, but before she could follow him into his office, she asked, "Were you ever in the military?"
His head cocked to the side. "Yeah, the Marines. I did a four-year enlistment right out of high school. Why?"
She sighed. "Just curious."
"Uh, okay." He turned and started toward his office, Grace watched the way his ass moved beneath his black dress slacks. God, the man was delicious. A squeeze. Just one squeeze and she could live the rest of her life with a grin on her face.
As he closed the door to his office, panic welled up. Most men didn't send her blood rushing through her veins, and she never felt panicky around them. With Jackson she was the helpless field mouse cornered by the hungry tom cat. Not a happy image.
Jackson moved around his desk and sat, indicating she should sit in one of the chairs across from him. She sat and braced herself, unsure what this new mood of his was all about. He seemed pensive, and she wasn't used to that. Jackson was usually flirtatious or ribbing her until she wanted to pull out her hair, or his. Those were moods she could handle. This serious side had her fidgeting in her seat.
"I want to know why you went to Merrick. Is it so horrible working for me?"
Grace clutched the arm of the chair. He was asking for the truth. Since the moment she'd started at Merrick's company, Jackson had never actually pushed her into dealing with their mutual attraction. He seemed content to let them dance around each other. Dodging him and suppressing her insane attraction to him had just become a thing of the past, though.
"It's not so bad. You pissed me off and I reacted. I'm sorry."
He glanced down at his desk and frowned, then moved a few files around. As he leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest, he said, "Yeah, that's the part I'm fuzzy on, Gracie. What set you off? One minute I was talking to you like any other co-worker, just shooting the breeze, the next thing I know you're growling and stomping off. What did I say?"
She would have to admit it now, or try to lie. She sucked at lying to Jackson. He always saw right through her, somehow. Another infuriating thing about the man. "You were talking about your night with Ginger," she blurted.
"Ginger? What does she have to do with anything?"
She rolled her eyes and stood. "You know, for an educated man, you can be so dense." Grace started for the door, but she never managed more than a few feet before a pair of large, strong hands pulled her to a stop. She swung around and glared. "Let me go."
"You were jealous," he stated, as if she hadn't already figured out that part on her own.
"Hallelujah! Give the man a cigar."
"How do you think I felt when you threw Antonio in my face? And don't say you didn't mention him just to piss me off, because we both know the truth."
She'd gone out with Antonio, a cute guy from accounting, on the off chance she'd be able to forget about Jackson. It hadn't worked. She'd spent the entire evening comparing the two men, and she'd found Antonio lacking big time.
"I wasn't talking about Antonio like he was an all-you-can-eat buffet, though."
She watched a muscle in Jackson's jaw twitch angrily. It made her want to lean in and lick him. "Don't piss me off by lying. I respect the women I date. I don't expound on their attributes with friends and co-workers, and you know it. I mentioned going to dinner with her, that's all. You damn near shot out of my office like a cat that'd just gotten her tail stepped on."
His imagery stung her pride. "That's not true."
He leaned close and murmured, "Stop lying, sweetheart. You were jealous, same as I was when you mentioned Antonio."
She tugged her arm and got exactly nowhere. "Fine, I was jealous," she admitted. "Can I go now?"
"No. We need to fix this. We can't continue working together if you're going to run to Merrick every time you feel cornered."
She made a point of wiggling her arm. "Then stop cornering me."
He released her, and she stepped back. He stepped forward. Grace held her ground, though his nearness sent fire dancing through her veins and her pussy throbbed with need.
"You like it when I corner you," he said as he looked her over. "You're just too chicken to admit it."
Grace narrowed her eyes. "Take that back."
He grinned. "Nope. It's true. You're too chicken to take what you want, and we both know it."
"We work together. Getting involved is a bad idea." Crap, even she knew that was a lame excuse.
He pointed to the door. "Exhibit A: Chloe and Merrick."
Damn, she hated when he was right. "That's different. Merrick wasn't a stalker."
He laughed. "And I am?"
"You may as well be."
"How about you just prove you aren't a chicken. Put me in my place, Gracie."
She knew exactly where this was leading. "I suppose if I go out with you, it'll be proof. That's so pathetic."
He shook his head, looking entirely too sure of himself. "Go to the Interop Convention with me. Spend three days in Las Vegas by my side. Prove you can resist this chemistry arcing back and forth, and I'll leave you alone."
"You just want to get me drunk so you can take advantage of me. Perv."
Jackson stepped closer and touched the tip of her nose. It was completely platonic, nothing flirtatious in the touch at all, and yet he might as well have touched her breast, she was so turned on. "You know better than that. I would want you alert for what I have in mind." He paused before adding, "What do you say? Can you handle three days in Vegas with me? Or is it too much temptation for you?"
She should have walked out. Turn around and walk away, don't let him suck you in. The inner voice was ignored. Instead, she stepped forward, barely grazing his hard body with the tips of her breasts. Even through the material of their shirts, Grace felt her nipples harden as if begging for more. Jackson tensed. His gaze narrowed. The atmosphere around them seemed to fairly spark.
Grace lifted on her toes and whispered, "Bring it on."
Jackson licked his lips and cupped her chin in his palm. "You're going to push me too far one of these days, little girl."
Grace didn't speak. She couldn't if she'd wanted to. She just stood there, their bodies barely touching, Jackson staring at her gaping mouth. When he released her and stepped back, she nearly wilted. Had she wanted him to kiss her? Duh! Even the thought sent her temperature higher.
Three days. Three whole days of Jackson Hill in Sin City. Yep, it was official. She'd lost her mind.