Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Welcome Sara Fitzgerald!

I've known Sara for years, and I'm so excited about her new Christmas story!

CONTEST!!  Leave your name and email in the comments and Sara will pick a winner and give away a copy of her book.

Ann is two-years-old and was recently diagnosed with autism.  Her parents are desperate to help her.  Ann shows great promise.  However, she needs early intervention at an expensive preschool.  Going to school could give Ann the life her parents always dreamed of for her.  But paying for the school would take a miracle, and this Christmas season, miracles seem to be in short supply.

Amazon link -


Carol eyes flickered up. “I guess it runs in the family.” Bill glared at his wife. “I’m here.” He stared at Kate. Nate gently put his arm around Kate’s shoulders. Things had always been tense between Bill and Kate. Ever since they were kids. Beth said it was like mixing vinegar with oil. Bill loosened his tie. “By the way, Kate, I don’t appreciate all these emails you send me asking for donations to fund research for autism or the ones to contact my representatives to pass the health care bill. Only email me if it is important.” Kate tensed. How dare her brother act so cold and callous about Ann and the thousands of other children with autism? “I’m sorry that my daughter having autism is such a bother to you.” She took her coat and Ann’s off the coat rack. “Nate we should leave.” Beth frantically shook her head. “No, please, stay.” Carol pasted on a bright smile. “Besides, we don’t know if little Ann really does have autism.” Tears burned in Kate’s eyes. She didn’t know which comments were more hurtful, Bill’s or Carol’s. “Actually, Carol, we do know. The top experts at the University confirmed it a few weeks ago. We must have forgotten to tell you.” Nate forced a smile. “Kate, why don’t we take a quick walk? The fresh air will do us good. Ann is with Grandpa.” Kate placed Ann’s coat back. Nate was right. She needed to cool down before she said or did something she could never take back. “Okay.” She quickly put her coat on. Beth smiled. “Take as long as you need, Sweetheart.” Kate hugged her mother. She didn’t know what she’d do without her. She couldn’t have asked for a better mom or dad. Maybe a better brother. Bill obviously didn’t care about Kate or her daughter. He would have never said those hateful, hurtful words otherwise. FIND SARA: Website - Amazon author page -

Just What the Doctor Ordered:
Mine for Keeps:
Darkness Within

Magic Within

Anything for Charity

Yesterday's Wish:

Saving Savanna:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Fitzgerald has a daughter with autism and was involved in getting the autism health bill passed. Sara was named Writer of the Year by the League of Utah Writers.  She is the author of the Christmas Story, Saving Savanna.

She lives with her husband and daughter in the Rocky Mountains. She enjoys spending time with her family.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Excerpt - An Agent for Cecily

I can't wait for December 7th. My next release, a historical romance that's part of the multi-author series "The Pinkerton Matchmaker" - will be released. I've sent the story out to my advanced readers, and already they're letting me know how much they love this story and they 'can't put it down'. I love it when readers tell me that!!

So here's a little teaser from my upcoming story!

There’s only one way to escape Cecily Sheldon’s insane family – take on someone else’s identity. Along with this new identity comes a new job. Of course, to become a Pinkerton Agent, she must marry a male agent who will train her. Now she needs to keep her true identity hidden from Broderick Tanner for fear he’ll arrest her along with her father and brothers. Perhaps living a double life wasn’t a good choice after all.


Cecily entered the Pinkerton Agency Office, and noticed several other ladies waiting in the lobby. They appeared as nervous as she was. And thankfully, none of them were dressed for a real wedding.

Mr. Gordon’s secretary, Marianne, moved from one woman to the other, whispering something in their ear and giving them a reassuring hug. When the woman reached Cecily, she smiled and squeezed Cecily’s hands.

“You are breathtaking, Miss Livingston,” Marianne said. Her bright eyes twinkled like emeralds.

“Thank you.”

It surprised Cecily how young Marianne looked. The woman was about the same height as Cecily, and her brownish-red hair made her porcelain skin even lovelier. Marianne’s smile even comforted Cecily.

“There’s no need to worry. Mr. Gordon has teamed you up with one of Pinkerton’s finest agents. He’s a kind man and will treat you well.”

Cecily didn’t know how to reply, only because she wondered if Marianne told this to all the other women. It didn’t ease Cecily’s anxiety, but it didn’t matter. She was determined to make this her new life.

Suddenly, the group of women moved. Another door had been opened and they were ushered into a spacious area. Several handsome men stood against the wall. Most of them wore dour expressions. Cecily suspected they were not thrilled about having to marry, just as the women weren’t.

It surprised Cecily to see the room was decorated nicely with flowers and ribbons. A long table stood on one side with a white tablecloth and a line of cakes on top. She also noticed a tray of meats and cheeses. Marianne must have fixed this up to make the women agents feel more comfortable about their wedding.

Mr. Gordon stood at the head of the room. Once everyone was quiet, he started reading names, pairing the couples together.

Shifting from one fancy boot to the other, Cecily wrung her hands against her middle, waiting for her name to be called.

“Miss Cecily Livingston, and Mr. Broderick Tanner.”

The beat of her heart quickened. She was thankful that she had instructed Mr. Gordon to use her name instead of Ruth’s. As she took her first steps toward her new husband, something in the back of her memory caused her to pause. She’d heard his name before… somewhere.

On shaky legs, she moved to the front of the room alongside the other couples. Her partner walked toward her, his gaze skimming over her attire. She also looked him over from the top of his sandy brown hair, down his handsome face, broad shoulders and wide chest, admiring the way he looked in his dark gray suit jacket and trousers, black waistcoat over a white shirt, and his necktie.

When he stopped beside her, she realized how tall he was, and she had to tilt her head back to look into his face.

He offered a polite smile. “It’s nice to meet you, Miss Livingston.” He bowed slightly.

She curtsied. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Tanner.”

That name! Where had she heard it before? But it was more than just his name. He looked so familiar.

As they stood side-by-side, she peeked at him out of the corner of her eye, assessing his face, slower this time. He didn’t meet her gaze, for which she was relieved. But until she figured out how she knew him, it would drive her mad.

Mr. Tanner’s attention finally landed on Cecily, and he caught her gawking at him. This time, he looked at her differently… as if he recognized her, too.

“Forgive me, Miss Livingston, but have we met before?” he asked.

Her memory finally opened and her heart made a panicked leap in her chest. They had met! He was the lawman who came to her house in January, looking for her father. He was the lawman she’d lied to.

Inwardly, she groaned. Had she told him her real name four months ago? Although she couldn’t remember their conversation word-for-word, she was sure she hadn’t told him her name, just the names of her mother’s parents.

Cecily had been filthy that morning. Soot had covered her from her head to her feet. Her hair had been ratted and in disarray, and she probably looked like she didn’t own a brush. She’d worn an ill-fitting dress that she had sewn together from dresses which didn’t fit her any longer.

So what part of her had he recognized now?

She forced herself to breathe slower, trying not to appear too rattled by his question. “No, Mr. Tanner. I think I would remember meeting someone so blindly attractive.”

Her mind stuttered to a halt. What did I just say?

She’d heard her father and brothers flirt so many times, the words just slipped out of her mouth. If there was a hole big enough to fit her, she’d climb in it right now.

Mr. Tanner’s eyes widened. His mouth started to pull into a grin, but seconds later, it turned back into a scowl.

“Um… Thank you, Miss Livingston.”

Heat rushed to her face and she turned toward Mr. Gordon. That was an awkward moment. Cecily surmised that Mr. Tanner probably thought she was a brazen woman. She was far from it. Then again, she wasn’t a Sheldon any longer. Perhaps living as Ruth Livingston would allow Cecily to act as she’d always wanted but hadn’t dared.

The possibilities were endless… and exciting. She couldn’t wait to experience this whole new life.

Monday, November 19, 2018

NEW RELEASE - Second Billionaire Romance

I'm so excited to have book #2 in my clean billionaire romance series available for purchase. I love these two characters. There's a little humor, a little suspense and action, and a LOT of romance...

FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Have you stared dreamily at the mouth-watering book cover long enough? Well, now it’s time to buy the book and read this hunk’s story…

 Zack Greyson was in the right place at the wrong time. Now he’s the FBI’s key witness in a human trafficking case against a U.S. Senator, and the senator’s henchmen are out to kill him. The FBI places Zack in protective custody and assures him they’ve sent their best agent to guard him… Or is Agent Whitney Lawson their worst agent? Because of her, Zack is discovered and they are both forced into hiding. With stakes running high in a life or death race to the trial, Zack and Whitney find their passions racing as well. Zack knows that one way or another he’s destined for entrapment… he just hopes it’s Whitney’s and not the wrong end of a bullet.

**Chapter One**

So, she botched up an assignment. It hadn’t hurt anyone. Not really. To err is human, right?

Not according to the FBI.

Agent Whitney Lawson tightened her fingers around the steering wheel as she drove slowly through John F. Kennedy International airport’s parking lot. She wasn’t here to catch a perp or even a suspect. Oh, no! That kind of assignment was way above her now. Two weeks ago she would have been undercover, or on a stakeout, or making arrests. Those were the important assignments.

But now… she was a babysitter. Seriously!

Although Zack Greyson was one of the country’s wealthiest men – according to a popular magazine – he wasn’t exactly a baby. Unless you were a love-crazy stalker and sighed baby-oh-baby, where have you been all my life when looking at his picture.

Because Whitney messed up on an assignment two weeks ago, her boss forced her to play guard-dog to a billionaire. Zack was the key witness to the trial-of-the-year in New York City and was supposed to be in hiding. Senator Sterling had been arrested for conspiracy to commit murder, for fraud, and for running a human trafficking ring.

Zack Greyson’s association with the senator had been ongoing for six years until Zack accidentally observed the senator commit two out of three of these charges. Zack was now in danger. The FBI had wanted the billionaire to enter their Witness Protection Program, but Zack had declined, stating he could hide just fine without having the FBI run his life.

Whitney rolled her eyes. Just because the man had loads of money didn’t make him the Almighty and untouchable. The FBI suspected that the senator had put a hitman on his payroll, and her unit worried that Zack might wind up dead.

She’d fought like crazy not to get this assignment, but obviously, had lost. It was now up to her to watch over Zack Greyson and make sure he was hiding well enough. But he wasn’t. If she could find him each time he moved locations, she was sure the hitman could find him.

A movement from a parked truck caught her attention. She slowed her black SUV, watching carefully as the man exited his new Chevy truck. He reached into the uncovered bed of the vehicle and grasped a forest green wheelie suitcase.

The popular celebrities’ magazines always used three words to describe him whenever they talked about Zack Greyson: tall, brawny, and gorgeous. She had her own way to describe him: arrogant, built-like-an-ox, and too conspicuous.

For someone who was trying to stay hidden from the senator’s hitman, the billionaire failed miserably. He could have at least colored his hair or worn secondhand clothes instead of designer brands. But Zack’s dark brown hair was still shoulder-length, he wore his usual classy, button-up long-sleeved shirts that somehow showed off his muscles – and drove top-of-the-line, brand-spanking-new vehicles. He grabbed a black leather jacket off the seat of his truck and shrugged it on before heading toward the terminal.

Grumbling, she circled back around the lot, hoping to find a parking stall. She had to stop him from getting on the airplane. Hopefully, between now and just before he checked in, she’d think of something clever. There was no way she could keep an eye on him if he left New York City.

Whitney found a parking place and scrambled out of the SUV as not to lose Zack. She probably looked suspicious by not having luggage, but she couldn’t worry about that right now. Her mind scrambled for a way to convince him that leaving the city was a bad thing right now, and that he really needed the FBI’s help.

Throngs of people crowded the terminal. She groaned. Finding him would be harder now.

Skimming her gaze around the different sections of the terminal, she noticed many loved ones saying good-bye to their families. Couples embraced and kissed before one of them left to enter the security section.

Because Zack had a lot of money, he’d probably checked in online, which meant he’d be in line to check in his baggage. Yes! This was what he’d be doing right now, she just knew it.

She pushed past people on her way to the baggage check-in desk. Thankfully, a long line of people stood waiting. And, standing taller than anyone was Zack Greyson.

Whitney breathed easier as relief washed over her. But what should she do now? Would walking up to him and flashing her badge be the key to convincing him not to leave?

“Oh, Tommy,” a woman nearby wailed as she threw her arms around the man in his twenties who stood in line for the security check station. “I can’t believe you’re really leaving.”

“Cami, please don’t cry.” He kissed her briefly on the mouth. “I’ll be back to get you. I just need to secure a job and find us a place to live, first.”

The curly-haired blonde woman nodded. Her make-up smeared down her cheeks from her tears. “Okay. I’ll miss you.”

He gave her one last hug before moving into the line.

Whitney rolled her eyes. She’d bet twenty-bucks that Tommy never returned for his girlfriend. Men! She would never understand them.

Suddenly, an idea struck her, and she sucked in a quick breath. Dare she do something so obnoxiously… stupid? But, she was desperate. She couldn’t botch another FBI assignment.

She hurried toward Zack, trying to psyche herself up for the ridiculous play-acting she was about to perform. Three feet away from Zack, she let out a cry and screamed his name.

Several people standing in line jumped and swung their gazes toward her. Zack looked over his shoulder, and when he saw her, his eyes widened. She wasn’t sure if he’d remember her from when her unit had talked with him two months ago, but she kept on with her performance, regardless.

“Oh, Zack,” she sobbed and launched herself against him, wrapping her arms around his neck. She was taller than most of the women in her office, but she still had to raise up on tippy-toes in order to get in a good hug this way.


“How could you leave me like this?” she said quickly, not wanting anyone to know that she wasn’t who she proclaimed to be. “I’m sorry about our fight, Zack. I’ll do anything you want, just don’t go. Stay and we’ll work this out.”

His gaze narrowed on her, and his mouth twisted in a humorous grin. “You’ll do anything?”

She didn’t dare voice her hardened thoughts right now because of his reaction. “Anything.” She pressed her check against his – at least she tried to – and whispered, “we need to talk away from the crowd.”

Slowly, his arms wrapped around her waist as he brushed his lips over her ear. She wasn’t sure she liked how close their bodies were now… or the fact that he’d made goosebumps rise on her neck.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked in a low voice.

Whitney withdrew slightly. “Please, Zack. Tell me you’ll stay. I can’t live without you.” When she hugged him again, she said softly, “I don’t want to draw too much attention, so please do as I say. We need to talk.”

Once again, he lifted his head and peered down at her. This time, his gaze wandered over her face slowly as if he was trying to recognize her. There was a spark of interest in his teasing gaze, and she knew he’d figure out who she was eventually.

“Darling, you know I have to leave,” he said grinning widely.

She liked that he was following along, however, things were going the exact opposite of how she’d envisioned. This was not fun and games, so why was he playing like it was?

“Please, Zack…” The tone of her voice became edgier.

Tenderly, he cupped the side of her face. “Tell me you love me. Tell me I’m the only man for you.”

Whitney clenched her teeth. He’s got to be kidding! She wasn’t about to say that!

Murmurs from the people behind her encouraged her to say those three magical words. What had she gotten herself into this time? As much as she detested what was happening, she reminded herself that she did this for the badge. She was a great FBI agent, and she would not mess up another assignment.

Forcing herself to grin, she tried to get into character again. It was more difficult now than it had been a few moments ago. “I… love you, Zack. You are the only man for me.”

His expression relaxed, which made his brown eyes twinkle. “I love you too, darling.”

Before she knew what he was doing – or could stop him – he lowered his mouth to hers. The second their lips touched, the small crowd around them cheered. Good grief! Was this really happening?

Zack’s mouth moved slowly over her so gently, it took her breath away. Her heartbeat quickened and her legs suddenly grew weak. His strong arms tightened around her waist, holding her intimately against his body, and all she could do was let him kiss her. But she just couldn’t allow herself to get into the moment.

He broke the kiss, and she sighed with relief. But when his mouth moved to her ear, his warm breath on her neck made her shiver with delight.

“You started this, lady, so you’d better play along before our fans figure out the truth.”

Inwardly, she groaned. He couldn’t be serious… Yet, his mouth returned to hers and their kiss continued. Gads, he was really going to make her do this, wasn’t he?

This is for the job! She tightened her arms around his neck and kissed him. In her mind she tried to imagine the most desirable man she’d ever met, but all she could picture was Zack’s face and his dreamy, twinkling brown eyes.

His large hands slid over her back, caressing softly and bringing heat into her body until she relaxed. Against her better judgement, she participated in the bold kiss.

What had started out to be a simple kiss, turned urgent. The velvety heat from his tongue caressing hers in the most inappropriate way made her mind whirl. In fact, she felt as if she floated in his arms. The sounds of cheering slowly diminished, and all she could hear was the erratic rhythm of her heartbeat.

Just as she started to enjoy the kiss, Zack slowed down the urgency until only soft pecks were on her lips. He withdrew and stared deeply into her eyes. Dang, he was gorgeous. The phrase baby-oh-baby, where have you been all my life popped into her head.

Snap out of it, Lawson!

Blinking herself to awareness, she glanced around, preparing to meet the curious gazes of the crowd. But… they were not in line any longer. They were against a side wall in the corner. How did they get here?

“Hey,” he said sweetly. “Have you returned from that cloud you were just floating on, yet?”

Anger grew inside of her, hot and unyielding. How she’d like to slap his arrogant face for making that comment.

She huffed and shoved him away. The warmth she’d experienced being so close to him had disappeared, making her feel empty. She calmed her breathing, silently counting to ten.

Zack continued to look at her wearing a slanted grin on his handsome face. He calmly folded his arms over his wide chest and tilted his head slightly.

“So, lady… Are you going to tell me what that was all about?”

“Um, yes.” She straightened her shoulders. “I’m Agent Whitney Lawson with the FBI, and I’ve been following you for a little while.”

Zack’s pretty-boy features darkened with his scowl. “You’ve been following me? I specifically told you guys that I didn’t need your help.”

She stepped closer, giving him her FBI demeaning glare. “And you, Mr. Greyson, are the key witness in the trial of the century. You promised us that you were going to stay hidden, but look where I’ve found you.” She motioned her hand toward the long lines. “Tell me, what does hiding mean to you? Does it mean you’re out in public where everyone can recognize you? Because you obviously haven’t done anything to hide your identity.”

He grumbled and pulled out a rolled up magazine that had been in his jacket pocket. It was one of those popular tabloids. On the front cover in bold letters was written Missing Billionaire, and had his picture plastered across the cover.

“Apparently,” he said, “the world thought I was missing or they wouldn’t have published this. But now after your display a few minutes ago with everyone taking pictures and videos on their cell phones, I’m quite sure my cover will be blown. No thanks to an FBI agent, of course.”

She rolled her eyes and tried not to feel embarrassed. Was he right? Would this be all over the media, now? Inwardly, she groaned. Captain Bott would have her badge for sure on this mistake.

“Unfortunately, the mistake has been made, so now we just need to fix it.” She grasped the handle of his wheelie suitcase. “Come on, let’s go out to my SUV so we can talk in private.”

His hand gripped the handle, too. His piercing glare challenged her.

“Sorry, lady, this is your mistake, not mine. I’m getting on that plane and flying to Hawaii for some R and R.”

Her temper turned hotter. “Hmm… sorry, but you’re not. You’re coming with me.”

“And if I don’t?”

Captain Bott is going to kill me! “If you don’t, then I’ll arrest you.”

He chuckled. “For what?”

“Resisting an FBI agent, that’s what for.”

His expression softened slightly and his grin reappeared. “But I didn’t resist you, Agent Lawson. You were the recipient of my kiss, so I’d think you’d know there was no resisting at all.”

Heat flooded her face, and she was sure it was redder then a ripe tomato. She needed to calm down and talk sensibly to him. That was the only way. Either that or tell him an enormous lie.

“Zack, the truth is… We have reason to believe a hitman knows where you are.”

He gave her a nonchalant shrug. “Again? If you remember correctly Agent Lawson, I was shot two months ago, which was why the FBI thought they had to step in and help me.”

“Of course, I remember. But this time is different. He knows… eh, he knows you’re going to Hawaii. In fact,” she glanced over his shoulder toward the line at the baggage claim section, “he might be one of those people checking in their luggage.”

“If the hitman is here, why hasn’t he shot me, yet?”

“Seriously? Out here in the open where everyone could identify him? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. He’s going to wait until you’re in a quiet spot with very few witnesses. So the way I see it, you have two choices. You come with me willingly, or—” she reached behind her and unhooked the handcuffs around her belt and brought them into view, “I’ll cuff you and take you back un-willingly.”

Zack sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Fine, I’ll go with you, but,” he stepped closer, bringing his face a half-inch away from hers, “you, or the FBI, owes me a first-class ticket to Hawaii.”

She couldn’t stop the snort coming from her laugh. “Yeah, okay. Like you’re going to miss a couple hundred dollars from all your billions.”

Pushing past him, she led the way out of the terminal. Neither of them spoke as they neared her SUV, which happened to be closer than his truck.

“My truck is just over there,” he said.

She nodded. “And we’ll pick it up later.”

“No,” his voice turned sharp, “we’ll pick it up now.”

Just as she opened her mouth to argue, gunshots popped through the air from out of nowhere. Her first instinct was to protect Zack. She grasped his arm, and pulled him down, ducking behind a parked car. She fished in the back of her slacks to pull out the gun from her holster.

“Keep down,” she instructed, and she was relieved Zack did as he was told this time.

With the gun in her hand, she peeked over the edge of the car. Whoever was shooting at them was hiding really well.

She glanced toward her SUV. Only two vehicles away. They could get there. She’d make sure they arrived safely.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out the keys, and then clicked the remote to unlock the doors. “On the count of three,” she said in a quiet voice, “we’re going to run to that black SUV. Got it?”


She counted it out, and together they darted toward the SUV. More gunfire came from one direction, but thankfully, they made it to the vehicle and hopped inside.

As quickly as she could, she started the car and took off. Seconds later, a white truck came into view, barreling toward them, picking up speed.

Her heart sank. Out here in the airport parking, where were they going to hide?

CLICK HERE to purchase

For more clean billionaire romances, CLICK HERE to see more stories in the series!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


I'm so excited to introduce my new billionaire series - The Tycoons.  Book #1, THE BILLIONAIRE'S PURSUIT will be 99 cents for a limited time, so grab you copy NOW!

Buy Now!

When Nicole Adkins tumbles into billionaire Mick Remington’s lap and looks into his smoldering eyes, she all but stops breathing. He looks like the sexy model on the front of a romance novel cover. Unfortunately, she’s heard about his brazen reputation with women and she’s not about to let herself be taken in.
Nicole’s grandfather is nearing his last days on earth, and his poor health has taken its toll on the family business – her inheritance. But when Mick Remington shows up in town, she fears the worst. He’s here to take control of her grandfather’s business. The company is ripe for a takeover, and Nicole isn’t about to let that happen no matter how sweet and charming Mick pretends to be.
Mick claims to want to help, but with her entire future on the line, Nicole doesn’t know whom to trust. As she spends more time with Mick, she begins to fear her heart may be as at risk as her company.


Finding the man she’d planned to ruin wasn’t easy. The Country Club’s lounge was packed with people tonight. Nicole Adkins rolled her eyes. Great! Perhaps she wouldn’t have to worry about this after all.
Nicole shook the negative thoughts out of her head. She would do this. It was the only way, and she was desperate to put a stop to Mick Remington.
She blinked several times, trying to get her vision adjusted to the room’s dim lighting. It was imperative that she find her man. Well, Mick Remington wasn’t exactly her man, but he was the only man she was after tonight.
She glanced down at her black, short-sleeve mini-dress with a keyhole neckline collar that hugged her petite figure. With a groan, she tugged at the hem of her dress that ended three-inches above her knee. Her grandfather had purchased this dress for her five years ago, but she’d never had the occasion to wear it.
Tonight was certainly not the right occasion, either, but wearing something so daring would get Mick Remington’s attention. She released a tiny groan. If her father could see her now, he’d wonder where he’d gone wrong. Her father had raised her with high standards, it just so happened that this evening she’d have to put some of her religious beliefs on hold so she could save her inheritance.
If only there was another way.
Thanks to the tabloids, Nicole knew Mick Remington dated fancy-dressed, beautiful women. Although Nicole didn’t consider herself beautiful, she thought this expensive dress might get his attention. Tonight it was important to convince him to spend some time with her, if only for a few hours or however long it took to get information that she could use against him.
She just prayed her angel father wouldn’t judge her right now.
If only her friend hadn’t forced Nicole to go along with this outrageous plan. If it was up to her, she’d find a much prettier woman, dress her up like a model, and make her charm the billionaire. Growing up as the pastor’s daughter, Nicole was the exact opposite of enticing.
A few patrons glanced her way – both male and female. The men’s ogling stares made her uncomfortable, especially when their female dates elbowed them in the ribs and shot Nicole a warning glare.
Losing her nerve, Nicole scampered down a shadowed hallway toward the bathrooms and pressed her back against the wall. With her heartbeat in overdrive, she tightened the cell phone in her hand and dialed her friend’s number. Her friend answered immediately.
“Mary,” Nicole kept her voice low, “I can’t do this. I feel so… cheap.” Her friend’s fit of laughter was so loud, Nicole pulled the phone away from her ear for a moment. When the sound died down, Nicole gritted her teeth. “I mean it, Mary. You picked the wrong woman.”
“First off,” her friend said with a light voice, “you’re definitely not cheap, especially since you’re wearing a Trina Kurk’s designer dress. And no, I didn’t pick the wrong woman. You are perfect for this role.”
“But wearing this dress makes me feel like I could charm the socks off any man who walks by.”
“Great, Nikki. Go with that and use it to your advantage.”
Nicole grumbled underneath her breath. “But this isn’t me. I don’t wear fancy clothes like I’m going to one of Paris Hilton’s parties. I’m more comfortable in a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt and flip-flops.”
“Nikki, don’t worry about what you’re wearing. Keep in mind that you’re a woman on a mission. You must stay focused.”
Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply and slowly. “Yes, I’m on a mission, but I don’t want that man to think I’m like most women with loose morals who regularly hits on him.”
“You’re not,” Mary reasoned. “All you’re trying to do is catch his eye and make him want to date you. Just keep in mind that you should be nice to him until after you’ve found the information we’re looking for.”
“Yes, I hope we can, too.” Frowning, Nicole opened her eyes and sighed. Mick Remington was in town to buy out her grandfather’s company… a company that was going to be hers one day. She couldn’t let Remington take this away from her.
“Nikki? Are his associates still with him?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him yet.” Nicole moved out of the hall and back into the main lounge. She scanned the bar before studying the booths. “Remind me what he looks like again.”
“Seriously, Nikki? Can’t you remember seeing him on that tabloid magazine two months ago?”
“Well, I think I remember,” Nicole muttered.
“Mick Remington is probably the hottest guy in the lounge tonight. Six-foot-four, broad shoulders, dark brown hair, and a trimmed goatee. The article I read about him mentioned his gray eyes will make any woman drool.”
Nicole snorted a laugh. “Well, I can guarantee he won’t make me drool.”
She continued searching for the man her friend had described, but she couldn’t find anyone who fit that description. Mary’s boyfriend had insisted Remington was here, so she didn’t dare leave just yet. The longer she studied each person in the room, ease began to settle her nerves. Could she hope he had already left?
“He’s not here,” she told Mary, trying not to feel relieved that she wouldn’t have to go through with this after all.
“No, he’s there. I just talked to Kent.”
Nicole stepped into the lounge a little further, continuing to hold the phone to her ear. Out of the corner of her eye, a handsome man with broad shoulders and dark brown hair captured her attention as he walked away from the bar and to a booth, holding a drink. He scooted on the seat and set his drink next to a folder of papers on the table.
Crap! Nicole frowned. He was here. “I think I see him.”
“Is he still with his associates?”
“No. Remington is by himself.”
“Great!” Mary’s voice lifted with excitement. “Now make your move, babe. Strut your stuff in front of him.”
Nicole rubbed her forehead, but it didn’t relieve the pain knocking against her skull. “Mary, I don’t—”
“Stop it, Nikki. Tell yourself you can do this. You must. Kent is there and will help you, I promise. As soon as we hang up, I’ll call him to make sure he’s ready.”
Nicole glanced at the four cowboys standing at the bar, flirting with the cute server girl wearing tight leggings. “I see Kent and his friends. They’re near Remington’s table.”
“Perfect. Give me a minute to call, and then you can make your move.”
Nicole clicked off her phone before sliding the cell into her purse. Sucking in a deep breath, she squared her shoulders. Mary was right. This must be done. It didn’t matter how underhanded the plan; someone needed to stop this man.
Wealthy businessmen like Mick Remington were parasites. The only reason men like him were billionaires was because they destroyed people’s lives. She had no other choice. She must stop him from ruining more people in his pursuit of money and glory.
Mick Remington had learned from the best. His father had been the destroyer feared by all large business owners. Whenever they heard Remington was in town, every business doubled up on their shareholders. Now his son held the destroyer title since she’d heard the elder Remington was retiring.
She wrung her hands against her waist, mentally going over her checklist. She’d charm Mick and convince him to tell her about his next business takeover. If that didn’t work, she’d go against her morals and let him take her to his hotel room and she’d slip a sleeping pill in his drink. Once he was passed out, she’d look for information that would help them fight the takeover of Adkins Dev-Tech, her grandfather’s company. And, if that didn’t work, Mary was ready with her camera to take pictures of Remington to sell to the tabloids. It was rumored that Mick hated to have his picture taken without consent.
Nicole shivered with anxiety. She prayed it wouldn’t come to that. Would she even know what to do at that point? Besides, blackmailing a successful businessman like Mick Remington could be dangerous.
From over at the bar, Kent’s phone chirped, and Nicole swung her gaze in his direction. He pulled it from his pocket and answered it. As Nicole focused on the four cowboys, Kent’s gaze met hers as he talked to Mary. He gave Nicole a nod.
Everything was set just as they’d planned.
Nicole’s heart pounded so hard, it threatened to bruise a rib or two. Maybe, break one. This was it. It was now or never.
Taking a deep breath for courage, she ran moist palms over her dress to help dry her skin faster. She also tried to pull the hem of the dress down to cover more of her bare legs, but the material wouldn’t budge. On shaky three-inch high-heels, she headed toward Mick Remington’s table, keeping her focus on the back of his brown head of hair and wide shoulders.
With each step, she clenched her jaw a little tighter. How could she act sweet and docile toward him when she loathed the very ground he slithered upon? What if he found her attractive? He’d want to touch her. The very thought of being so intimate made her stomach roll.
Nicole’s plan had to succeed. Grandpa James’s disease had grown worse. He had one foot in the grave, and she would inherit the company after he was gone. But not if Mick Remington sank his uncaring claws into it first. If that man took over, the town’s very existence would be depleted.
Yeah, no pressure. It wasn’t like everyone in Maple Springs source of income rested heavily upon her shoulders.
As she passed Kent, he laughed out loud and jumped back. He stomped his cowboy-booted heel directly on her foot. Crying out, she stumbled away from him… and fell right into Mr. Remington’s lap. The man’s muscular arms wrapped around her waist as a gush of air escaped his mouth, brushing her cheek. He smelled like mints – not alcohol. How refreshing.
The throbbing pain in her foot brought her back to what she was doing on his lap in the first place. Tears gathered in her eyes from the pain Kent had inflicted upon her. He knew how small her feet were since he’d teased her about them. Now she worried he’d broken some bones.
“Uh—sorry Miss,” Kent slurred and returned to the bar, chuckling.
Tomorrow she would make him pay dearly for this. But at least she had Remington’s attention.
Nervously, she turned and met Remington’s dark stare. Worry etched his handsome expression at first, but within seconds, kindness replaced it as his gaze practically caressed every inch of her face.
A sharp breath caught in her throat. This couldn’t possibly be Mick Remington. From what she’d heard, the man didn’t have an ounce of kindness.
Nicole blinked a couple times and focused back on the dream-man still gazing at her with a look that didn’t fit his reputation. Had she fallen on the wrong person?
Sweeping her gaze over his features, she double-checked to see if he was really Mick Remington. He resembled the man Mary had described, but somehow his skin seemed darker as if he’d just returned from enjoying the sandy beaches of Jamaica. Definitely, a possibility since Mick constantly traveled all over the world – according to the tabloids, anyway.
She swallowed hard. “I’m… I’m sorry for falling for you… I mean on you.” Embarrassment heated her face. Had she really said that? What an idiot she’d been… a very confused idiot.
Nicole struggled to move off his lap, but when she put her weight on her injured foot, the pain intensified. Stumbling, her shoe fell off in the process, and she sank back to his lap. “I can’t seem to stand.”
“How badly are you hurt?” His voice held a hint of concern.
“I can’t put pressure on my foot. I don’t know… it might be broken.”
Mr. Remington’s large hand slid down her leg until it hooked over the heel of her sore foot. His touch was so tender. So warm. Tremors of unexpected delight danced across her skin. She quickly silenced a traitorous sigh before it exited her mouth.
“Let me take a look.” He bent, inspecting it closer.
His hot breath caressed her skin. Goosebumps rose over her body from her neck, clear down to her toes.
She froze. It wasn’t just the pain from her bruise torturing her now, but the way his gentle fingers brushed over it.
He straightened. “It’s going to be a nasty bruise, but I don’t think it’s broken.”
Nicole forced a smile. “Thanks, but I should be leaving—” She moved to stand again, but his arms tightened around her waist.
“Sweetheart, you shouldn’t step on your foot now. It’s starting to swell.”
Her heart flipped from the nickname he’d given her. And why was his voice so stimulating when he said it? The pain must be affecting her hearing, too.
“But, I can’t stay on your lap all night.” From the mere idea, her face grew hotter. “I don’t even know you.”
“How about we change that right now?” His eyebrows lifted. “I’m Mick Remington. And you are…”
The woman that’s going to destroy you!
As much as she wanted to say those words, the sound of his deep, yet soothing voice brought odd sensations trickling over her. Her throat turned dry, as did her mouth.
She refocused on her mission and licked her parched lips. “I’m Nicole.” She couldn’t tell him her last name. He’d know exactly who she was related to. Quickly, she used her mother’s maiden name. “I’m Nicole Stanley.”
His gaze did a quick sweep around the room before landing back on her. “Are you here alone?”
“I’m not supposed to be.” She swallowed hard and began her lie. “But my date stood me up. I was on my way out the door when I was pushed onto your lap.”
He ran his hand softly over her knee, stirring the heat inside her up another level. They were way too close for her comfort.
“I really feel awkward sitting on you like this.” She motioned her head toward the empty space next to him on the booth’s seat. “Would you mind if I scooted over there?”
He gave her another devastating grin that lifted the right side of his mouth higher than the left. Dimples creased in both cheeks. Why did he have to have such an adorable feature about him? Regardless, she must stay focused on her goal.
“I would mind because I think this is very cozy, but I wouldn’t want to make you uneasy in any way,” he said.
Shifting her on his lap, he slid his hands underneath her legs and eased her onto the empty space beside him as if she was as light as a feather. He kept her injured foot propped on his thigh.
Nicole sucked in a breath and heat rushed over every inch of her body. Silently, she cursed her reaction to this gorgeous man. She prayed she wouldn’t be fighting him and her traitorous body all night long. There was no way she could endure that much torture.