Authors: Tacie Graves
By Tacie Graves
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
Growing up in Blue River, NY, there was one word that was a curse:
I married at 20 to get away from it, but my husband, Liam, decided that “Love, Honor, and Obey” was really man-code for “Screw Over and Betray.” I decided I deserved better than that and, going against every word of advice I ever received, left him. Then I was, to my Irish Catholic mother’s eternal dismay:
Saints preserve us.
Time passed and people finally stopped thinking of me as
and started thinking of me as
again, so I began to date. Then I was
single, but dating
single, but dating
, is better than just
, but not by much
Single, but dating
is just a step on the road to
as far as Blue River is concerned.
When my sex-drive stepped in and informed me that my sporadic ventures into
weren’t cutting it, I finally gave in to temptation and slept with Donovan Collins. That moved me from
, because even though Donovan and I had worked together for years, he wasn’t interested in a long-term relationship
Hell, he wasn’t interested in a relationship at all. No one would
accuse him of
I have to admit, the sex was incredible. It was an earth-shattering, toe-curling night, but I was too brainwashed by my Irish Catholic upbringing to be comfortable with the idea of
So, I went back to
—with a little push from Donovan that felt caring even if it was more than a little insulting.
All this back and forth and up and down was making me crazy
I wasn’t cut out to be
. I wasn’t even good at the
if I was honest. So, I finally put my foot down and went back to just being
Mom could spit it at me as much as she wanted, but I was pretty damn sure it was better than
in her book.
I have enough hormones to medicate an entire nursing home through menopause, and although I had my trusty shower massager, it just wasn’t the same
I hadn’t had a social orgasm in months, and I was beginning to think in terms of
when it came to sex
Donovan said he’d be back in my bed if it was empty for too long, and I was almost angry that after six months he hadn’t made good on his threat… I mean promise
The truth was, though, that I hadn’t even seen Donovan since I stopped dating
He’d been out of Blue River for months working on something he couldn’t explain to me
I figured that meant some Government something—like taking over a South American country, or rescuing an African diplomat.
Even so, I wasn’t ready to give up the Donovan fantasy completely
As a matter of fact, fantasy Donovan was really good to have around on those lonely late nights when my hormones were grumbling about my having ditched my latest “boyfriend.”
I could have found someone to date
Two officers down at the station had faced my father’s wrath and invited me out to dinner and a movie
A guy I went to high school came back to town to take over his family’s numbers running racket, and he asked if I wanted to lay a bet on a “sure thing.
None of them appealed more than fantasy Donovan, though, so I politely turned them down saying I was taking a breather from the dating scene
After everything I’d been through
no one questioned that.
I distracted myself with work
Being a private investigator in a family full of cops isn’t easy. Sometimes I found myself on the wrong end of a discussion with someone who’
been locked up by my dad or one of my brothers, and, unsurprisingly, they often think it’s the perfect opportunity to get even with a McAnally since I don’t wear a badge. This is where Donovan
comes in. Being my own boss I’ve had to take a lot of contract work to fill in during the lean times, and over the past few years I’ve helped him out on more than one occasion--even uncovering an embezzler within his company
He knows he can count on me, and I have his word that he’ll provide muscle whenever I need it
So, whenever something came up where I needed backup, I called Collins Security and someone was always mysteriously “available.”
Most of the men who work
e local with a few exotic faces thrown in for good measure
They’re all ex-military—skilled, dangerous, and cautious to a fault
I would pu
t my life in any of their hands
in a heartbeat, but my favorite? My favorite was Jack.
Now some people might say, “How can you pick a favo
rite out of all those hunky men
I say, “Easy
Just look at him.
Jack Diaz was 6 feet and 4 inches of hot sticky cinnamon bun—spicy and sweet and sinful just to have around. His eyes were as green as my mother’s shamrocks, and his hair was short and curly and as dark as coal
He had beautiful hands, perfectly muscled arms, and long, strong legs that would be heaven to be tangled in sheets with. He
s hot, he
s funny, and to top it all off he actually
All of this contributed to my hormone problem considerably
I mean, how was I supposed to convince a storm of raging Irish hormones that the hot guy playing with my hair isn’t fair game
I was so frustrated I think they considered “fair game” to actually be “anything within reach” and Jack knew it
He reveled in it
He liked to walk up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders
Then he’d rub his thumbs in gentle circles, larger and larger,
finally drag those beautiful hands down my arms
Sometimes he’d trace a finger along my jaw, and then bend over and whisper unnecessarily in my ear, pressing that long, lovely body against me the whole time.
Basically, he was teasing the hell out of me, the bastard.
My only consolation was that after a while it seemed to affect him as well
I heard his breath hitch more than once when I turned quickly in his arms to face him
And there was, ahem,
proof that he was susceptible to the teasing as well
It was almost a game to see which of us could leave the other in a worse state
Yeah, I know… masochism at its finest.
Then, two days ago, Donovan came back.
I had no idea what I was walking into when I went to the
I just wanted my files, you know
But no—I walked in and waved at the receptionist, only to be
by the scent of cedar and smoke that dragged my memory back to the night I spent in Donovan’s bed. Every muscle in my body simultaneously seized
Add that to the star-struck look on the receptionist’s face and there was no other answer: four months with no news, and then
I was lucky I didn’t hyperventilate before I even saw him.
I unlocked my knees and forced myself over to Bridget’s desk, clearing my throat so I could get a sound out.
“Any clients for me?
Bridget gave an epileptic little jerk and pointed to a short stack of files on the corner of her desk
I didn’t envy her
Working with those men every day would be more than I could handle even when the boss was away playing Savior of the Free World
When he was actually in the office
I thanked her and grabbed my papers, quickly turning to make my escape
I knew I’d have to face him sooner or later; I was just hoping for later, rather than sooner.
s so often the case in my life, the Universe was not on my side
Just as I turned to
the inner door opened and the room was flooded with essence of Donovan.
When Donovan is around every
I somehow manage to forget just how handsome he is
Not having seen him for almost four months stripped me of that insulation and left my defenses crumbling in the face of near perfection
He was tanner than before, and his hair was longer, just hanging low enough on his forehead to make my fingers itch to brush it away. He was wearing gray fatigues that matched his eyes and a worn cotton t-shirt that was so tight I could probably see his pulse through it. I could feel the instant that
locked on me; it jolted like electricity through my veins hot and cold and searing all at the same time.
“Need to talk to you outside, Pet,” he said, the soft lilt in his voice making my knees weak, and inclined his head to Bridget as he headed out the door
I didn’t even try to make my goodbyes. She wouldn’t hear them.
He walked a little ahead of me and I watched his body as he moved,
his rolling gait
eating up distance without seeming rushed
I noticed the dimples that marked the ends of some muscles and the beginnings of others
There were deep impressions in the sides of his ass that even his fatigues couldn’t hide, and his gray web belt simply reinforced the narrowness of the waist it encircled.
My mind, though, refused to simply allow me to fixate on the man in front of me
It insisted on overlaying images of Jack’s deeply defined forearms and incredibly long, jeans encased legs over Donovan’s more muscular body, and the combination quickly had my pulse racing and my head spinning as I tried to keep up with Donovan’s pace.
When he stopped at his
he turned towards me, peering over the top of a pair of mirrored sunglasses. As he removed them, I could see his eyes pause as he noticed the pulse fluttering in my neck, and the flush spreading from my face to regions further south
Self-preservation in mind, I refused to acknowledge the glitter in his eyes and the almost tangible waves of desire clouding the air between us.